North Yorkshire County Council has this week given a commitment to invest £15 million to maintain and improve school buildings so they continue to be safe, warm, weather-tight and fit for their educational purpose. The County Council will also coordinate a separate programme of improvements at Voluntary Aided schools of almost £2m.
A further £3m will be spent over the next two years to provide additional school places due to the increased birth rate.
Although North Yorkshire’s total £18.7 m capital funding from the Department for Education is almost 20 per cent down on last year, the county council is targeting the cash very carefully to provide additional teaching space, to keep the fabric of school buildings in good repair, to achieve maximum efficiency, and where possible to embark on some capital improvement programmes.
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As part of this, a £4 million programme will be undertaken to bring specialist teaching accommodation at a number of schools up to modern curriculum standards. This will include the refurbishment of 14 science laboratories and upgrading of other specialist accommodation such as design technology, food technology, art, drama and music facilities.
There are also plans to improve some school toilets and make other minor improvements where schools are not able to meet the cost from their own resources.
£4.5m will be invested in replacing roofs and windows in poor condition and upgrading lighting, heating and ventilation systems. In addition the county council will allocate £2 million from capital funds to replace 13 portable classroom units in the poorest condition.
Where schools are looking to invest in sports facilities, the county council may also consider matching external funding which schools manage to attract. These projects are to be decided on a case by case basis.
Pete Dwyer, North Yorkshire’s Corporate Director for the Children and Young People’s Service said:
In North Yorkshire we are determined that children and young people have the highest standards of teaching and learning.
Making sure that our school buildings remain fit for purpose is crucial to that endeavour. Although our capital funding is lower this year, we have targeted the resources we do have to refurbish specialist teaching facilities and to ensure our school buildings remain safe, warm and weather-tight.