Yarmouth school's �12.4m boost

Thousands of pupils at five Norfolk schools are to reap the benefit of an �80m government hand-out to transform run down buildings and revolutionise the way children in this county learn.

Thousands of pupils at five Norfolk schools are to reap the benefit of an �80m government hand-out to transform run down buildings and revolutionise the way children in this county learn.

In an eagerly-awaited announcement, quango Partnerships for Schools (PfS) said Norfolk was one of 12 areas sharing �800m of Building Schools for the Future (BSF) cash.

Norfolk County Council came up with a slimmed-down list of schools in September, having narrowly missed out when areas were chosen in May to start in September.

The bid is the first wave of a project with education chiefs hope will transform classroom learning across the county.

Initially, it will mean the creation of a new type of school for the next generation and the transformation of Great Yarmouth High School; Marshland High School, in West Walton, near Wisbech, and Sewell Park College, in Norwich. Around half of the cash, �46m, will also be used to develop prospective academies at Costessey High School and The Park High School, in King's Lynn.

But there is to be no cash for a sixth school, Taverham High, after the school which was seeking �1.3m for ICT, dropped out of the process at the last minute.

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County council officials briefed head teachers about the funding announcement yesterday. Schools will now begin the detailed work of planning and the designing the new buildings, which could be up and running in the next five years.

Shelagh Hutson, Norfolk County Council Cabinet Member for Children's Services, said the �80m investment would transform teaching and learning for thousands of the county's young people.

“This investment will revolutionise learning at these schools, giving young people access to greater educational opportunities and in turn helping to raise aspirations and achievement,” she said. “We had to identify projects that had the highest need in both education and deprivation terms. We also had to consider proposed academies in the bid and could only base our submission on projects where work could begin quickly.”

Matthew Parr-Burman, head teacher at Marshland High, the most westerly school in Norfolk, said the aim of the projects was to create schools to equip pupils for the workplace of the future and careers which are more flexible than the job for life approach.

“It's very exciting, we are going to completely look again at the whole education process,” Mr Parr-Burman said. “The way in which we have teaching and learning, with children of the same age in a classroom for a fixed period, is something we have to look at as fundamentally changing,” he said. “We are going to have far more flexible spaces around the school.”

“Some of those jobs they will be going for probably haven't been invented yet, and we have got to make sure these children leave education with a really flexible approach.”

Phil May, headteacher at Costessey High School, said by re-imagining the design of schools that will help provide a greater range of opportunities to study and in turn lead to better results.

“Some of the children at Costessey are at a school which is in bits,” he added. There are times when we want to something but we can't in the rooms we have got.”

Andy Toone head teacher at Great Yarmouth High School, said the project had the twin aim of helping to regenerate the area and raise aspirations.

“It isn't about the school buildings,” he said. “It's about transforming the experience that young people have. For us it's an opportunity to make even more of a difference.

“The new buildings will look different from what we think of as traditional schools. You may have large groups of small groups and the school will be part of that, so that children can see that sustainable materials have been used, when they are thinking about the environment.”

PfS chief executive Tim Byles, a former Norfolk County Council chief executive, said, the Norfolk bid was a clear submission which had been well thought through at the strategic level.

“As well as delivering the new schools facilities that teachers and pupils deserve to every community, BSF will also help safeguard tens of thousands of jobs on the ground in the construction and related industries,” Mr Byles said.

“We look forward to working with Norfolk and seeing their BSF project take shape and the difference it will make not only to pupils and teachers, but also to the local communities.”


How the schools will benefit

The Park High, King's Lynn, which will get �24.5m for a newly-built academy in the town

Costessey High, near Norwich - �22m for a 70pc rebuild and 20pc refurbishment to construct an academy

Marshland High, West Walton - �15.3m for a 70pc rebuild and 30pc refurbishment

Yarmouth High - �12.4m for 55pc new build

Sewell Park College, Norwich - �4.6m for 30pc refurbishment


For a unrivalled look at how every school in the EDP area fared in the primary school tests this year, don't miss tomorrow's EDP.

We will carry comprehensive performance tables showing how schools got on in the English, maths and science standards assessment tests (Sats), including results for the previous four years.

The EDP will also focus on the best and worst of the bunch - and report on the overall performance of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.