Flooded schools need millions to relocate

Flooded schools need millions to relocate

Schools repeatedly damaged by flooding are mounting multi-million pound bids to move to new sites.

The Department for Education will decide in the coming weeks whether or not to provide capital funding to at least two schools that want to move following ongoing problems with water damage.

Schools Week understands that one is considering a move to a different town to escape future disruption.

In Carlisle, Catholic education bosses say they are “optimistic” about a bid for £17 million from the Education Funding Agency (EFA) to move Newman school away from a flood plain.

Pupils at the school were forced into temporary classrooms on the site of the former Pennine Way primary school in Harraby after storm Desmond battered England’s north west coast in December 2015.

Catholic education bosses say they are “optimistic” about a bid for £17 million from the Education Funding Agency

“We think the site has been flooded four times in its history. That has had a significant impact on learning in the school, which is something we don’t want to happen again,” the Rev Michael Docherty, deputy head of the Diocese of Lancaster education service, told Schools Week.

“Even if we had remained on the existing site, there would have had to have been significant adaptations to the buildings.”

Docherty said a feasibility study prepared by the diocese and local officials would be submitted shortly, with a decision expected within six weeks. He said the EFA had been “very supportive”, as had education secretary Justine Greening.

In a newsletter sent out last month, Newman head John McAuley said he had been proud of how the school community had “risen to new challenges” during “a very testing year”.

“The government has agreed in principle to fund the building of the school as long as we can show that a school can be built in a cost-effective manner with no unexpected additional expenditure in this location.”

Elsewhere in Carlisle, Trinity secondary school reported in July that most of its site was “back in action and fully repaired after the devastating damage of storm Desmond”, although Schools Week understands that negotiations over a move of its sports facilities away from a flood-prone area are ongoing.

Storm Angus prompted more school closures scross parts of England and Wales in November, while persistent problems with flooding have forced one school in Devon to consider a move to a different town.

In December, the schools minister Nick Gibb told East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire that officials had assessed a feasibility study on moving Tipton St John primary to nearby Ottery St Mary, and were working with council officers to discuss “outstanding issues”.

According to the BBC, some Tipton St John residents say the area risks becoming a “museum village” if the school moves away from its home of 200 years.

The government said further information on the schools would be released “in due course”.