Press release: ‘Most run-down school in country’ gets £7 million facelift

Coventry’s Richard Lee Primary School, once judged the school most in need of repair in England, is being officially reopened by Schools Minister Nick Gibb today (10 September 2015) under the government’s flagship rebuilding programme.

Pupils and staff at the school, which was previously blighted by frequent leaks and flooding, are beginning the new term in a state-of-the-art building thanks to the £7 million rebuild completed through the priority school building programme (PSBP).

As a result of the rebuild, the school now boasts a large, multi-use hall, bright new classrooms and a state-of-the-art music and drama studio.

Over the 2 phases of the PSBP 537 schools – some of them in the worst condition in the country – will be transformed in projects worth a total of £4.4 billion. This term more than 11,500 pupils are returning to rebuilt schools as 22 reopen.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb, who saw the Richard Lee Primary School before its refurbishment during a visit in 2012, is returning for the re-opening ceremony.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

I am delighted to be returning to Richard Lee Primary School to see its remarkable transformation under the priority school building programme.

Like schools across the country being rebuilt through the programme, Richard Lee now has modern, fit-for-purpose facilities which will provide a wonderful teaching environment for many years to come.

This re-opening underlines the government’s commitment to delivering social justice by ensuring all children, regardless of birth or background, are being taught in schools which give them the best chance to unlock their potential.

Richard Lee Primary School was rated as being in the greatest state of disrepair when schools were assessed for potential refurbishment work through the first phase of the PSBP.

During today’s opening ceremony, which will include the planting of an oak tree, the Minister will meet pupils and staff at the school.

Richard Lee Primary School Headteacher Carol Brammer said:

Our long awaited new school building gives us a great place for our children to learn and for teachers to teach. Our facilities are fit for purpose, with fantastic learning spaces giving access to new technologies, a music and drama studio, bright and airy classrooms with shared learning zones and a large multi-use hall.

The new building brings together the school and children’s centre to create a hub of activity and opportunities for children and families to achieve and thrive. The building itself sits in an oasis of green which combines the ancient spinney to one side and new landscaping surrounding the school. This hard-fought-for new school building lifts the spirits and aspirations of our whole community, helping our children to be the best they can be.

Councillor David Kershaw CBE, Coventry city council’s cabinet member for education, said:

The new building for Richard Lee Primary School is remarkable and will provide an excellent learning environment for every pupil in the school for many years to come. Coventry city council has also invested an additional £500,000 of funding to provide a replacement children’s centre for the site, which will be an integral part of the development and provide a wide range of services to local families.

Stephen Beechey, Wates Group Strategy Director and Managing Director for Government Affairs, said:

The opening of Richard Lee Primary School not only marks a new dawn for the school but it also brings to a close Wates’ successful delivery of 6 new schools in Coventry in 2 years under the EFA’s priority schools building programme.

The unanimously positive feedback received from staff, students and parents has shown us that we have more than achieved the vision for these schools, to create enriching learning environments that will inspire the current and future generations of Coventry.

Richard Lee is 1 of 6 schools being delivered in the Coventry PSBP batch. There are 3 other primary schools, 1 secondary school and 1 special needs secondary school. Richard Lee is the final school to be successfully handed over.

Thanks to the PSBP, school buildings are being rebuilt faster and cheaper than those built under the previous school building initiative – Building Schools for the Future (BSF). Under the BSF it took 3 years for construction work to begin. This was slashed to 1 year for the PSBP, with projects costing around a third less.

Notes to editors

  1. The priority school building programme was established in 2011. A total of 260 schools have successfully applied for refurbishment work through the first phase of the programme.
  2. Thanks to decisions which have been taken to improve efficiency and reduce waste in central school building programmes, significant work on those projects is already underway. In September 22 buildings are re-opening through PSBP thanks to £160 million of construction work bringing the total number to have been re-opened through the first phase of PSBP to 49.
  3. In May 2014 the government announced a further £2 billion for the second phase of the programme. A list of the 277 schools to benefit from the second phase of the PSBP was published on 9 February 2015.

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