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School's minister to inspect Helston college over funding bid
4:00pm Friday 18th October 2013 in News
A senior official from the Department of Education is to carry out an inspection of Helston Community College as part of an ongoing bid to replace part of the building.
The officer is being sent by Schools Minister David Laws following a meeting with representatives of the college and Cornwall Council last week.
Headteacher Dr Pat McGovern travelled to London with Cornwall Councillor Andrew Wallis and Trevor Doughty, director of children’s services in Cornwall, for a meeting arranged by MP Andrew George.
They were lobbying the government for funding towards the cost of replacing the college’s C-block with a new building that would include 22 classrooms, particularly for English and maths, as well as a library, hall and gymnasium.
The existing block, which was built in the 1950s, is in a poor state of repair, with problems with its roof and walls.
Last year Cornwall Council’s cabinet agreed in principle that the scheme would be built, subject to appropriate funding being approved. This was to have come from the council’s capital programme and officers were told to find the money.
In July this year, however, the new cabinet broke the news to the college that the money could not be found.
Since then the council, college and Mr George – as well as members of the public, who signed a petition set up by Derek Thomas – have been working to find the £10 million needed.
The aim of meeting with Mr Laws last Wednesday was to discuss a bid put forward by the council for funding from the £50 billion fund set up by the government to support public sector infrastructure projects.
Headteacher Dr McGovern welcomed the offer of a visit from a government official, saying: “I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet the minister and am pleased with the support given by the local authority, which has reinforced the clear message that we are working together to resolve this issue. “I am particularly pleased with the minister’s offer to send a senior official from the Department of Education to visit Helston. This is a major step forward.”
Mr Wallis, cabinet member for children and young people who also represents Helston and Porthleven, described the meeting as “positive and encouraging, adding: “Helston Community College is one of our highest achieving schools and, like all students in Cornwall, its young people deserve to be taught in high quality buildings. Everyone agrees that the issues with C-block need to be addressed as quickly as possible and I am pleased that the minister has recognised the seriousness of the situation and has agreed to send one of his senior officials to Cornwall to inspect the problem for themselves.”
Mr George described it as “an important step” to resolving the issue.
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