HUNDREDS of pupils are set to benefit from a Government cash windfall at two Hartlepool secondary schools.
High Tunstall College of Science, in Elwick Road, and the English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College, in Catcote Road, both entered bids for money from the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP) – cash set aside to address the needs of the schools most in need of urgent repair.
Both schools have been accepted into the second phase of the scheme which means it is likely that they will receive substantial sums which will mean significant improvements.
The news has been welcomed by Councillor Chris Simmons, chair of the Children’s Services Committee for Hartlepool Borough Council.
He told the Mail: “It’s tremendous news that both High Tunstall and English Martyrs have been successful in their applications to the PSBP.
“The Council worked very closely with both schools in preparing the bids and I’m really pleased that the hard work has paid off.
“Today’s announcement paves the way for substantial improvements in school buildings which I welcome wholeheartedly.”
High Tunstall College of Science has been campaigning and working with the council and the town’s MP Iain Wright to fight for the college to be included in this round of infrastructure funding.
High Tunstall College of Science has received praise from Ofsted in recent times and was described as “improving quickly” with “good” leadership and management.
Mark Tilling, headteacher of High Tunstall College of Science, said: “This is fantastic news and recognition of the confidence that others have in the improvements being made at High Tunstall.
“In a competitive education environment it is essential that we are all on an equal footing and this investment will enable us to continue to raise academic standards further.
“As a college, Science has been our specialism for a number of years and this will enable us to work with our local business partners and design a building that enables students to be successful in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects and meet the business needs of the 21st century.
Michael Lee, headteacher at English Martyrs School, added: “We worked closely with the local authority to prepare a bid for the Priority School Building Programme and we are delighted that it has been successful.
“We know that the programme will mean a substantial improvement in accommodation and facilities.
“This will enable us to give our students the first class environment which they deserve and will help us to build upon the already excellent academic record of the school.
“These are exciting times for students at The English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College.”
Mr Wright was as equally as delighted after lobbying the Government for the cash. He said: “I’m delighted that High Tunstall and English Martyrs have been successful in the Priority School Building Programme.
“Every Hartlepool child should be taught in the best quality schools, both in terms of their teaching standards and in respect of buildings, and this announcement goes some way towards that.
“During the construction phase, I also hope that Hartlepool construction workers and town firms within the supply chain will benefit from this investment, providing jobs and apprenticeship opportunities here in the town.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “The two schools have been successful in their applications to the second phase of the Priority School Building Programme, and will now have the condition needs in one or more of their buildings addressed as part of the programme.
“In certain cases, some buildings that were applied for in a school have met the criteria for the programme, but others have not.
“Scoping studies on all schools will commence from April onwards to assess the detailed work required, together with any specific site issues, and to review the best method and timescale for delivery.”
High Tunstall is in particular need of the cash after high winds ripped part of the roof off just over a year ago.
A section of the school and it had to close temporarily while repairs were carried out.
The good news now means that surveys will be carried out on the sites to establish what work needs doing and, in turn, how much money each needs.