£143m for Blackpool schools

BLACKPOOL has secured £143m to invest in secondary schools across the town.

Education chiefs today confirmed Highfield Humanities College will be the first school to be completely rebuilt, followed by either Bispham or Beacon Hill while the rest will undergo "significant" or "minor" remodelling.

The windfall comes as the resort is welcomed into Wave Five of the Government's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme.

It means children now in their first year at junior school should be the first to walk through the new doors in September 2012 and step into a new era in Blackpool's secondary education.

David Lund, Blackpool's director for education, hopes the money will mean equality for all the town's pupils

He said: "That money has been earmarked for our project, it's guaranteed.

"This is not just a building programme, but an educational one.

"I'm not happy with the state of some of the schools.

"Some bits are pretty old and shabby. It is not right and it is not fair for everyone not to have access to the same high standards.

"We have the opportunity to transform secondary education in Blackpool, using the building work as a catalyst to drive up standards and ultimately change lives."


But even 143m will not cover the full cost of Blackpool's ambition to provide top class facilities and embrace the full range of new courses and services schools of the future are set to offer.

Other funding will be needed, including private investment or Lottery cash as with sports facilities at Collegiate and Palatine high schools, as schools take on the new 14-19 vocational diploma qualifications from September.

Not all schools will get the same facilities and students will be asked to travel between sites for classes at whichever school specialises in that particular subject.

A "melting pot" of ideas has been put forward in a report to the Department for Children, Families and Schools to fulfil the Government's target of diversity of education.

Already St George's CE High School is considering becoming an academy and is in talks with potential sponsor, the Blackburn Church of England Diocese, a move which would bring further funding into the Cherry Tree Road site.

And Bispham and Beacon Hill have set up a working group to discuss ways they can pool resources to help manage falling rolls of 1,000 by 2016 without either having to close.

Plans for all schools to become Trusts, with more autonomy but still under local authority control, are already under way.