Herts’ run down school buildings are ‘among worst 10% in the country’

The state of the county’s school buildings is among the worst 10 per cent in the entire country.

Thursday, 30th July 2015, 4:57 pm
An artist's impression of the new Longdean School.

A report presented to Herts County Council’s overview and scrutiny committee revealed the sorry state of our schools.

Six Dacorum secondary schools have already been allocated central government funding so that the decaying buildings can be demolished and rebuilt.

They are Longdean, Kings Langley, Astley Cooper, Cavendish, Hemel Hempstead and Tring schools.

The report - School Repairs and Capital Projects - said: “Members felt that every effort should be made to improve the state of repairs and maintenance, resulting in Hertfordshire moving out of the worst 10 per cent, with a goal to be in the best 10 per cent.”

But Councillor Andrew Stevenson, deputy executive for resources and performance, told the Gazette: “I’m not really sure what that number actually means.

“I think the most significant measure is the Ofsted reports, which look at all aspects of education and there Hertfordshire has more than 80 per cent of schools in the ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ categories.

“I don’t quite know what these other sorts of numbers plucked out of the air mean.”

He said the county’s schools are top of the class in terms of Ofsted rankings when compared to others across the country.

“We have a lot of children who cross the borders to get into Hertfordshire schools,” he said.

But the Tory-controlled Herts County Council has come under fire from the Liberal Democrats.

Opposition spokesman for education and children’s matters Councillor Mark Watkin said: “It is asking too much of our teachers to have to meet the demands of the National urriculum in inadequate buildings?”

The Lib Dems have accused the Conservatives of blocking a motion put to the council last week that called for school improvements.

Vice chairman for scrutiny Malcolm Cowan said: “It was depressingly predictable that the Tories used their majority to vote this down, saying I should not have brought the matter up.

“They claimed that Hertfordshire’s good exam results showed there was not a problem, as if the crisis conditions in many of our schools made education better.

“But the biscuit came when Labour neither spoke nor took a position, preferring to sit on their hands and abstain.

“Teachers, parents and children must wonder about a world where only one political party sees such a shocking report on school buildings as a concern.”

Mr Stevenson said more than £80million has already been spent on upgrading school buildings and said there is a ‘number of funding streams’.

“I think there is a difference between whether a building is fine for education and perhaps whether a building surveyor thinks some work should be done to the building,” he said.

“I don’t think it is clear enough what that number means and I think the current metric to focus on is Ofsted.”

He added that the 10 per cent figure will be investigated further.