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Funds uncertain for Oriel academy plan

PUBLISHED: 11:32 09 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:55 16 September 2010

NORFOLK'S four new academy schools could still get their new buildings - but the plans are likely to be scaled back, the government has said.

Four academies are due to open next month - Ormiston Venture Academy on the site of Oriel High School, Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey, King's Lynn Academy replacing Park High School, and Thetford Academy replacing Rosemary Musker and Charles Burrell high schools.

NORFOLK'S four new academy schools could still get their new buildings - but the plans are likely to be scaled back, the government has said.

Four academies are due to open next month - Ormiston Venture Academy on the site of Oriel High School, Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey, King's Lynn Academy replacing Park High School, and Thetford Academy replacing Rosemary Musker and Charles Burrell high schools.

The government says they are “intended to go ahead” but will not find out how much cash they will get until after the government spending review, which will finish on October 20.

Thirty-three “sample” school rebuilds and 44 new academies across the country will proceed as planned and get their money straight away, but no Norfolk schools fall into this category.

Alison Thomas, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services, said: “We remain fully committed to all four academy projects for Norfolk and our aim is still to see all four academies open in September.

“Our priority is to get them up and running as planned so they can start to transform young people's education and learning - and we are currently discussing and exploring the implications of today's announcement with everyone involved.

“I would like to stress to pupils and their parents that there is no change to the arrangements that have already been communicated to them for the start of term - including start dates and times and details for collecting their new uniforms.

“As far as the funding for new and refurbished buildings is concerned, we will continue to make the case for Norfolk's pressing need very strongly to the Secretary of State for Education and are grateful to sponsors for their continued support and commitment.”

Education secretary Michael Gove said: “I know how hard councils and schools have worked on these projects and I have been anxious to ensure we can do everything we can, in difficult economic times, to support the crucial work of raising educational standards.

“I'm determined that we press ahead with the academies programme and want all those schools identified as future academies to enjoy the freedoms and benefits academy status brings.

“We will also work with councils, sponsors and the construction industry to ensure we bear down on costs and bureaucracy so every new school is built in as cost-effective and efficient a way as possible, and I am delighted that they have already responded so positively to this challenge.”

Last week it emerged that just one Norfolk school, Martham Foundation primary and nursery, has applied to join a new wave of fast-track academies.

Hartismere High School in Eye is also hoping to join the government's new academies scheme, which allows them to opt out of local authority control.

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