The Prime Minister joined delighted staff and pupils at Upton Heath CE Primary today, Monday (February 9), as it was announced the school will receive £2million from the Government’s flagship Priority School Building Programme (PSBP).
Upton Heath CE is one of 22 schools in the North West and 277 across England which will see their buildings refurbished or rebuilt with a share of £2billion.
One child said they would improve its security, while another said they would make the car park bigger.
He was also asked by one curious youngster who he was.
“My job is to run the country,” Mr Cameron answered, likening the Government to Upton Heath CE’s school council.
Mr Cameron said that PSBP is far more efficient than Labour’s Building Schools for the Future, which he described as the ‘failing’ schools-building initiative inherited by the coalition Government. It was scrapped by former education secretary Michael Gove in 2010.
He said: “If you compare this programme with the Labour programme, this is building schools three times as quickly and at a third of the cost. So we can refurbish three times as many schools.
“So it was worthwhile doing the work to put in place a programme to deliver more schools more quickly.”
The Prime Minister suggested that the multi-million pound investment may help to address the shortage of school places in the future.
“As you refurbish a school like this, a school that has gone from special measures to being a good school and has expanded at the same time and would like to expand further, there may be opportunities to make this school bigger as well as better,” he said.
Welcoming the announcement, headteacher Paula Moreton said the staff and pupils are ‘really made up’ and explained that the timing of the funding is ‘perfect’.
“We have gone from special measures – we have become an excellent school in a very short period of time.
“We have got excellent staff, the kids and parents are amazing.
“Now this will top it all off so we can get the outstanding that we know we are.”
Mrs Moreton said there will now be a feasibility study of the whole building, which will assess whether refurbishment or a total rebuild is required.
“All we know is that our drains will work, our heating will work, we won’t have leaks,” she added.
Chester MP Stephen Mosley added that the school building was ‘showing its age’ but praised the progress staff have made over the past few years.
“In 2009, it was classified as a failing school,” he said.
“Having new management and a new headteacher have really turned it around.
“This money that has been promised will really be another stepping stone in making sure that Upton Heath is one of the best schools that we have got locally, and this of course continuing the work that is going on across Chester in all schools to ensure that all children in the city get a fantastic education.”
The Chronicle also asked Mr Cameron what he thought about criticism levelled at coalition-championed free schools, that they are being established in areas already well-served by state schools. Chester already has two and another in the pipeline,.
But he said that the test of free schools is whether parents want to send their children to them, and ‘the evidence is that they do’.
He explained: “These free schools have only been going for a couple of years so the fact that a quarter of them are outstanding and a higher percentage are outstanding and good than in the state sector as a whole shows that this is a popular and successful programme.
“In the end, what this is about is more good school places.
“I’ve got three children in a state primary school.
“We all want to find good school places for our children and so the more good schools that can be established, the more chance we have of fulfilling that dream of a good, secure, safe learning environment for our children where they can be inspired.”