Claim Helston Community College 'can do without C-block' rubbished by head

Falmouth Packet: Claim Helston Community College 'can do without C-block' rubbished by head Claim Helston Community College 'can do without C-block' rubbished by head

Claims that the government believes Helston Community College can do without its C-block have been rubbished by its head teacher.

Dr Pat McGovern refuted comments made by Cornwall councillor Phil Martin at last week’s Helston Town Council meeting.

Mr Martin told members: “There are some snags. The government thinks the square footage of that school is quite adequate without C-block. It’s still an ongoing situation.”

He was speaking in response to a question from Councillor John Martin, asking for a progress update on finding the funding to rebuild the dilapidated C-block.

However, Dr McGovern told the Packet on Friday that he has received a letter from the Minister of State correcting this.

He said the government’s initial calculations led it to believe the school had a footprint of 14,000 square metres, when in fact it was only 11,000. Confusion had arisen due to the school being based on two sites.

Dr McGovern added: “The issue is we’re now pretty certain that the local authority will not be able, from its own resources, to either build or refurbish C-block. Nearly two years have gone by and we’re back to where we started.”

An initial promise from the former cabinet at Cornwall, to support a £10 million rebuild subject to funding being found, has run into difficulties after officers were unable to find the money.

Since July, the building has fallen into disrepair – and just two weeks ago a heavy window and steel frame was left dangling over the C-block quadrangle by a single, rusty hinge, only ten minutes before break time when pupils could have been underneath.

Helston’s mayor Jonathan Radford-Gaby commented on this at the meeting, saying: “I wonder how long it will be before these windows fall down onto those children?”

Describing it as potentially a “very serious incident,” Dr McGovern told the Packet that, as a result, all the windows had been secured with bolts and rivets.

Councillor Mike Thomas, who works at the school, said: “It does need maintenance and I have concerns they don’t seem to be dealing with it.”

If just refurbishment took place Mr Thomas said the school was looking at “total disruption” to maths and English classes, which meant pupils would have to work in temporary classrooms on the playing field.

“What is now lacking, unfortunately, is the political will to go forward. I’m grateful to members [of the town council] for their due diligence to do something, to get Helston’s prime secondary school fit for the 21st century,” he said.

Cornwall Councillor Andy Wallis, portfolio holder for children and young people, said there had never been money for a rebuild. The council was looking to the county’s Schools Forum for some of its unallocated money.

It has currently asked for more information over school maintenance, but if agreed the council needs to clear its use with the Secretary of State. The cabinet will next discuss the matter in February when the forum will have met.

Comments (1)

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6:53pm Mon 23 Dec 13

Gillian Zella Martin 09 says...

I believe the recent government agenda to provide funding for extra school placements within the county, which could include the complete building of some new schools, appears contradictory to their attitude towards funding the maintenance of existing schools in a state of disrepair such as Helston Community College. If the intake of infants/juniors in Cornwall, is to increase by way of developing extra school placements, then presumably the extra pupils will eventually move on to senior schools such as Helston Community College, and in order to cope with the extra intake, the senior schools obviously will need the space and additionally need a comprehensive maintenance policy to be in place.
I believe the recent government agenda to provide funding for extra school placements within the county, which could include the complete building of some new schools, appears contradictory to their attitude towards funding the maintenance of existing schools in a state of disrepair such as Helston Community College. If the intake of infants/juniors in Cornwall, is to increase by way of developing extra school placements, then presumably the extra pupils will eventually move on to senior schools such as Helston Community College, and in order to cope with the extra intake, the senior schools obviously will need the space and additionally need a comprehensive maintenance policy to be in place. Gillian Zella Martin 09

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