WALTHAM FOREST: Schools respond to BSF cuts

First published in Waltham Forest by

A TOTAL of 16 schools in Waltham Forest are set to miss out on multi-million pound rebuilding projects as part of a Government squeeze on public spending.

Yesterday Education Secretary Michael Gove axed more than 700 projects to rebuild schools around the country.

Last month the Guardian reported how headteachers were trying to remain cautiously optimistic that projects would still go ahead at their schools.

But yesterday the Government had to scrap the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) plans, a Labour Government initiative, saving billions of pounds.

Waltham Forest Labour MPs John Cryer and Stella Creasy expressed their anger at the announcement in a joint statement.

They said: “We are outraged at the Government’s decision to cut this much needed investment in our borough’s schools without any consultation with parents, pupils, governors, teachers or councillors.

"We’ve seen the difference new school facilities such as those at Frederick Bremer and Kelmscott make – and as the local MPs we want those resources for every child in our borough.

"Time, money and energy has gone into putting together plans to rebuild schools like Leytonstone, William Morris or Willowfield.

"Now with the swing of Michael Gove’s axe that’s all wasted and we have no idea how they plan to meet the urgent need for school places we have here either.

"The announcement also raises other questions about fairness in education as this Government channels funding into proposals for academies and free schools.

"We are determined to fight against the two tier system they seem to want to create which could leave thousands of young people in our borough without the schools and quality learning opportunities they need and deserve.”

The pair have jointly written a parliamentary Early Day Motion condemning the cuts and are seeking clarification about what the announcement will mean for investment in education in the borough in the current financial year.

Julia Mainwaring, headteacher of Belmont Park School in Leyton, which was due to receive more than £3 million to expand the school, called the situation "really sad".

She said: "We are always over-subscribed. As a special school we are not like mainstream that has a September intake.

“We have 56 pupils on the roll and were hoping to take capacity to around 64.

"It's not fair on children with a disability who cannot come here because we've not got the capacity. "It's vital for us and is really sad for parents and their children."

Ms Mainwaring said she was hoping the Government would review the situation in time.

Eve Wilson, headteacher at Willowfield School in Walthamstow, which was due to be completely rebuilt in Blackhorse Road, said she remains positive and hopes a Government spending review in October will see some projects allocated cash.

She said: "We've been working on our project for a long period of time and for the last few weeks we've been designing the building and have been getting quite excited.

"I'm still quite upbeat as I don't think the projects stopping means they have been cut.

"All the projects will be reduced on a case by case basis and the aim here is for the school to become 50 per cent bigger and the Government can't do without the expansion, there won't be enough places."

Ms Wilson admitted it is a case of "fingers crossed" and she said delays have already taught staff, parents and pupils that "the school is a great deal more than the building it is in".

In the House of Commons yesterday Mr Gove said: "The Building Schools for the Future scheme has been responsible for about one third of all this department’s capital spending.

"But throughout its life it has been characterised by massive overspends, tragic delays, botched construction projects and needless bureaucracy."

Mr Gove condemned the Labour Government's handling of the BSF scheme and pointed to "pointless bureaucracy". He said 200 new schools were supposed to be built by the end of 2008 and only 35 were built with 13 refurbished.

He added: "In order to ensure we do not waste any more money on a dysfunctional process I am today taking action to get the best possible value for the taxpayer."

The schools affected are: Belmont Park and Brookfield House, Chingford Foundation, Connaught School for Girls, George Mitchell, Heathcote, Highams Park, Holy Family Technology College, Joseph Clarke, Lammas, Leytonstone Business and Specialist Enterprise School, Norlington Boys, Rush Croft Sports College, Tom Hood, William Morris, Willowfield.

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Comments (13)

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9:51am Tue 6 Jul 10

Robert19 says...

I entirely agree with what the two MPs have stated (silence from Iain Duncan Smith - wonder why). This is an absolute disaster for schools in Waltham Forest - and elsewhere in England. The sheer amount of effort required to bring a project to fruition, the time and energy, the raising of expectations of students, staff and parents to be dashed in this heartless fashion is typical of the Tories in government.
I have been involved in a scheme which was due to start in August. The staff have started packing, the planning, the meetings, the plans, the money already spent all wasted. What is even more galling is the Government will now use some of that money for Academies - selfish Highams Park - and free schools for the middle classes. Outrageous. I could go on about the loss of construction jobs, the bulge coming through in primary schools where there will not be enough places in secondaries in a couple of years time...............
I entirely agree with what the two MPs have stated (silence from Iain Duncan Smith - wonder why). This is an absolute disaster for schools in Waltham Forest - and elsewhere in England. The sheer amount of effort required to bring a project to fruition, the time and energy, the raising of expectations of students, staff and parents to be dashed in this heartless fashion is typical of the Tories in government. I have been involved in a scheme which was due to start in August. The staff have started packing, the planning, the meetings, the plans, the money already spent all wasted. What is even more galling is the Government will now use some of that money for Academies - selfish Highams Park - and free schools for the middle classes. Outrageous. I could go on about the loss of construction jobs, the bulge coming through in primary schools where there will not be enough places in secondaries in a couple of years time............... Robert19
  • Score: 0

10:14am Tue 6 Jul 10

Techno2 says...

It must be very frustrating to be a child at these schools which need this renovation. I do however think that much of the outrage by these two MPs is a bit much.

The Labour Party was in power for 13 years and could have in that time spent the money required to do all this work. Instead their government sold off our national gold reserves at rock-bottom prices, squandered their opportunities and spent vast sums of our public money on fripperies and foreign military adventures.
It must be very frustrating to be a child at these schools which need this renovation. I do however think that much of the outrage by these two MPs is a bit much. The Labour Party was in power for 13 years and could have in that time spent the money required to do all this work. Instead their government sold off our national gold reserves at rock-bottom prices, squandered their opportunities and spent vast sums of our public money on fripperies and foreign military adventures. Techno2
  • Score: 0

11:39am Tue 6 Jul 10

Robert19 says...

Regardless of the waste caused by Blair's Iraq disaster a number of these schemes were ready to go with contractors waiting to get on site within weeks. We need the support of two of our three MPs to point out the stupidity and the utter waste of resources and funding that has been created by this decision. Also to point out that it is politically motivated given they are going to use some of this money for their own pet projects.
Regardless of the waste caused by Blair's Iraq disaster a number of these schemes were ready to go with contractors waiting to get on site within weeks. We need the support of two of our three MPs to point out the stupidity and the utter waste of resources and funding that has been created by this decision. Also to point out that it is politically motivated given they are going to use some of this money for their own pet projects. Robert19
  • Score: 0

12:55pm Tue 6 Jul 10

Pamella says...

if there was no money to undertake these projects in the first place then they should never have been started.

enough money has been wasted already and it has to stop.
if there was no money to undertake these projects in the first place then they should never have been started. enough money has been wasted already and it has to stop. Pamella
  • Score: 0

1:01pm Tue 6 Jul 10

Nairn says...

upsetting as these cuts may be, at least the children/students concerned will still be receiving an education.... many of Waltham Forest residents who have a disability and social care needs are going to end up with NO services, or services they and their carers rely upon being stopped... the cuts need to be put into perspective
upsetting as these cuts may be, at least the children/students concerned will still be receiving an education.... many of Waltham Forest residents who have a disability and social care needs are going to end up with NO services, or services they and their carers rely upon being stopped... the cuts need to be put into perspective Nairn
  • Score: 0

3:29pm Tue 6 Jul 10

everoptimistic says...

One of the main reasons the schools concerned have not received funding is that the borough had not managed to achieve financial closure on any of them. This dispite having years to organise and it seems an almost bottomless pit of money. A big spanner in the works was the that one of the big schemes, the Leyton Leisure and Learning Trust, was based on the assumption that the Leyton County Ground could be built on when in fact it was a piece of land held in charitable trust. Despite being informed of this as early as February 2009 the council, led by Cllr Robbins, went ahead with this scheme for months. This wasted valuable time which should have been used to finalise Wave 5 of the BSF. So the Labour MPs should have a word with our council leader before blaming things on the current government. Many other boroughs managed to get finacial closure on most, if not all of their schools.
So Head Teachers - look to the Children's and Young People's dept who are probably now writing out their notice letters (we could hope).
I am still optimistic that our children will do well in their present schools because I am convinced that it is the quality of teaching that is most important and we have a wealth of good teachers in the borough.
Incidentally, does anyone know if the land was ever purchased for the new Willowfield school because if it has it will be wasted and if not this would also have held up the Wave 5 bid.
One of the main reasons the schools concerned have not received funding is that the borough had not managed to achieve financial closure on any of them. This dispite having years to organise and it seems an almost bottomless pit of money. A big spanner in the works was the that one of the big schemes, the Leyton Leisure and Learning Trust, was based on the assumption that the Leyton County Ground could be built on when in fact it was a piece of land held in charitable trust. Despite being informed of this as early as February 2009 the council, led by Cllr Robbins, went ahead with this scheme for months. This wasted valuable time which should have been used to finalise Wave 5 of the BSF. So the Labour MPs should have a word with our council leader before blaming things on the current government. Many other boroughs managed to get finacial closure on most, if not all of their schools. So Head Teachers - look to the Children's and Young People's dept who are probably now writing out their notice letters (we could hope). I am still optimistic that our children will do well in their present schools because I am convinced that it is the quality of teaching that is most important and we have a wealth of good teachers in the borough. Incidentally, does anyone know if the land was ever purchased for the new Willowfield school because if it has it will be wasted and if not this would also have held up the Wave 5 bid. everoptimistic
  • Score: 0

5:02pm Tue 6 Jul 10

steve berwick says...

It might be the Tories that have made the cuts to the BSF programme in this and a lot of other borough. But a large share of the blame for our schools not being rebuilt rests with the Director of Children’s Services and the current leader of the council.
I don’t know what happened at all the schools that have suffered, but I am fairly certain that if these two had not insisted on imposing a range of unwanted structural changes to Cann Hall & Tom Hood School. Social experiments with working class kids by setting up “through schools” for children aged 3 to 19. Or taking these schools out of the family of community schools and turning them into trusts. All of these changes despite quite obvious parental opposition. If they had not wasted months and months pursuing this weird social agenda and instead just got on with applying for the funds and rebuilding the schools, Tom Hood would now be refurbished. I am sure that they will hide behind the party line that these decisions were taken by governors, but the governors did not dream up these stupid proposals, they did.
The local community has had all of the pain, now we not getting any of the gain! If these two had an ounce of integrity, they would quit. But I’m not holding my breath.

Steve Berwick
It might be the Tories that have made the cuts to the BSF programme in this and a lot of other borough. But a large share of the blame for our schools not being rebuilt rests with the Director of Children’s Services and the current leader of the council. I don’t know what happened at all the schools that have suffered, but I am fairly certain that if these two had not insisted on imposing a range of unwanted structural changes to Cann Hall & Tom Hood School. Social experiments with working class kids by setting up “through schools” for children aged 3 to 19. Or taking these schools out of the family of community schools and turning them into trusts. All of these changes despite quite obvious parental opposition. If they had not wasted months and months pursuing this weird social agenda and instead just got on with applying for the funds and rebuilding the schools, Tom Hood would now be refurbished. I am sure that they will hide behind the party line that these decisions were taken by governors, but the governors did not dream up these stupid proposals, they did. The local community has had all of the pain, now we not getting any of the gain! If these two had an ounce of integrity, they would quit. But I’m not holding my breath. Steve Berwick steve berwick
  • Score: 0

5:45pm Tue 6 Jul 10

everoptimistic says...

Steve Berwick is right to say the community will have none of the gain. But what is certain is that we will bear plenty of the loss. Goodness knows how much has been spent on consultations, consultants, highly paid council officers etc. Would any teachers or even heads of the schools that have missed out like to give a real account of what has been going on?
Steve Berwick is right to say the community will have none of the gain. But what is certain is that we will bear plenty of the loss. Goodness knows how much has been spent on consultations, consultants, highly paid council officers etc. Would any teachers or even heads of the schools that have missed out like to give a real account of what has been going on? everoptimistic
  • Score: 0

6:15pm Tue 6 Jul 10

sensibility says...

A number of years ago Waltham Forest Council sold off schools that were supposedly in excess of requirements

Had the Council reinvested that money in the remaining schools they wouldnt be banking on central government funding
A number of years ago Waltham Forest Council sold off schools that were supposedly in excess of requirements Had the Council reinvested that money in the remaining schools they wouldnt be banking on central government funding sensibility
  • Score: 0

8:21pm Tue 6 Jul 10

md-j says...

Stella Creasy... said: “We are outraged at the Government’s decision to cut this much needed investment in our borough’s schools without any consultation with parents, pupils, governors, teachers or councillors.."

Can Ms Creasy remind us what she said as a Councillor when the Council 'mislaid' £15 million of BNI money, and gave land worth £5-10 million to the WF Muslim Burial trust? I can't seem to remember.
Stella Creasy... said: “We are outraged at the Government’s decision to cut this much needed investment in our borough’s schools without any consultation with parents, pupils, governors, teachers or councillors.." Can Ms Creasy remind us what she said as a Councillor when the Council 'mislaid' £15 million of BNI money, and gave land worth £5-10 million to the WF Muslim Burial trust? I can't seem to remember. md-j
  • Score: 0

11:15pm Tue 6 Jul 10

savethecountyground says...

Stella Creasy should reflect on her labour councillors and council officers own incompetance in the failure to get wave 5 BSF signed. Some of the proposals for wave 5 were in fantasy land and not at all thought through. Who ever was responsible for the Cricket ground proposal (Chris Robbins or was it Chris Kieran) must of known the project was a dead duck as soon as they realised the land was covered by a charity deed and why was this not checked before proceeding. I suspect a lot of money was wasted because of pride and arrogance of councillors (it was a labour councillor in charge name of Robbins I believe) not prepared to admit mistakes rather than carry on reguardless and delay delay delay.
Councillor officers are just as much to blame they should of been coming up with well thought out and realistic plans for our childrens futures not half baked projects. After all I am sure they are paid a lot of money to get it right - should they not be accountable?
Stella Creasy should reflect on her labour councillors and council officers own incompetance in the failure to get wave 5 BSF signed. Some of the proposals for wave 5 were in fantasy land and not at all thought through. Who ever was responsible for the Cricket ground proposal (Chris Robbins or was it Chris Kieran) must of known the project was a dead duck as soon as they realised the land was covered by a charity deed and why was this not checked before proceeding. I suspect a lot of money was wasted because of pride and arrogance of councillors (it was a labour councillor in charge name of Robbins I believe) not prepared to admit mistakes rather than carry on reguardless and delay delay delay. Councillor officers are just as much to blame they should of been coming up with well thought out and realistic plans for our childrens futures not half baked projects. After all I am sure they are paid a lot of money to get it right - should they not be accountable? savethecountyground
  • Score: 0

5:31pm Wed 7 Jul 10

Robert19 says...

Nairn wrote:
upsetting as these cuts may be, at least the children/students concerned will still be receiving an education.... many of Waltham Forest residents who have a disability and social care needs are going to end up with NO services, or services they and their carers rely upon being stopped... the cuts need to be put into perspective
Nairn
I agree with what you say about social care almost certainly will be massively cut. However it is not just mainstream education that has taken a hit, special schools also have had their funding stopped (there's a letter in today's Guardian pointing out what will not now happen in a special school which has had its funding stopped). You fall into the trap of divide and rule 'at least they will still be receiving an education'. Well that may be true now but in a couple of years Waltham, Forest will run out of secondary school places. this is why this programme was so urgent. Michael Gove has promised a review but no promise of any funding other than to academies.
[quote][p][bold]Nairn[/bold] wrote: upsetting as these cuts may be, at least the children/students concerned will still be receiving an education.... many of Waltham Forest residents who have a disability and social care needs are going to end up with NO services, or services they and their carers rely upon being stopped... the cuts need to be put into perspective[/p][/quote]Nairn I agree with what you say about social care almost certainly will be massively cut. However it is not just mainstream education that has taken a hit, special schools also have had their funding stopped (there's a letter in today's Guardian pointing out what will not now happen in a special school which has had its funding stopped). You fall into the trap of divide and rule 'at least they will still be receiving an education'. Well that may be true now but in a couple of years Waltham, Forest will run out of secondary school places. this is why this programme was so urgent. Michael Gove has promised a review but no promise of any funding other than to academies. Robert19
  • Score: 0

9:22pm Thu 8 Jul 10

stevewhite says...

Pamella wrote:
if there was no money to undertake these projects in the first place then they should never have been started.

enough money has been wasted already and it has to stop.
Oh but Pamella there was. It is only Tory lies that say that there is no money.

And you must be the same Pamella that didn't know how schools were financed or who or who decides what is taught from the other day. Thats right the same person that thinks that academies are good. You must love these comments pages because you can express your opinion without having any knowledge at all.

The Tories have an agenda to create a two-tier education system. With muppets like you going along with their lies, it seems likely that they will do just that. Can I suggest to you that the Daily Mail is not a good or truthful source of information?

Steve Berwick is right and so is save the county ground
[quote][p][bold]Pamella[/bold] wrote: if there was no money to undertake these projects in the first place then they should never have been started. enough money has been wasted already and it has to stop.[/p][/quote]Oh but Pamella there was. It is only Tory lies that say that there is no money. And you must be the same Pamella that didn't know how schools were financed or who or who decides what is taught from the other day. Thats right the same person that thinks that academies are good. You must love these comments pages because you can express your opinion without having any knowledge at all. The Tories have an agenda to create a two-tier education system. With muppets like you going along with their lies, it seems likely that they will do just that. Can I suggest to you that the Daily Mail is not a good or truthful source of information? Steve Berwick is right and so is save the county ground stevewhite
  • Score: 0

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