Questions over decisions around £144m of Norfolk school revamp cash

Norfolk County Council's headquarters at Martineau Lane. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norfolk County Council's headquarters at Martineau Lane. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

Assurances have been sought that cash in a £144m programme of improvements to almost 70 schools across Norfolk is being fairly shared out.

Norfolk County Council plans to build dozens of new school buildings in the next three years to tackle growing pupil numbers, while also modernising outdated schools to improve learning for youngsters.

A revised programme, including more than £28m of newly-allocated money, as well as cash already earmarked for projects that are in the pipeline, was approved by the council's children's services committee yesterday.

But, before they rubber-stamped the programme, members of the committee questioned how decisions were made on which schools would get cash.

Emma Corlett, Labour councillor for Town Close, questioned why Bignold Primary School, which is more than a hundred years old, seemed to be getting less cash than more modern schools to convert to three-form entry.


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And Roger Smith, Conservative councillor for Henstead, sought assurances that the process was fair.

Officers said recommendations were made by the council's capital priorities group, which includes councillors, head teachers, governors and council officers.

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Gordon Boyd, an assistant director in children's services at the county council, said: 'I am confident there is very robust discussion, so what comes into the public domain is not only fair, but is seen to be fair.'

However, Alex Robinson, chairman of the Norfolk Governors Network, said: 'I think governors would say it lacks transparency and lacks consultation. I can see at least two cases on the list where governors of other schools would be surprised to see the allocations.'

Twenty new primary schools will have to be built in Norfolk by 2021, all of which will be academies.

Do you have an education story? Call Martin George on 01603 772468 or email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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