Blow to Co-op Trust schools

The Government’s scaling-back of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme is to affect a number of co-operative schools.

Designed by the Labour government, the scheme’s objective was to substantially refurbish or rebuild a number of schools. One of those affected is Lipson Community College, Plymouth, whose big band entertained at this year’s Congress weekend in the city. 

Other schools hit by the announcement are Fulston Manor in Kent and Castle Manor in Haverhill, which are two of the Business & Enterprise Colleges sponsored by the Co-operative Group that pioneered the development of the network of co-operative schools.

A flagship new build co-operative trust school in Wigan, that would have replaced two existing schools, has also been stopped, but there is even more uncertainty over its future as the local authority is adamant they fulfilled the criteria for their BSF programme to proceed, according to the Co-operative College.

Julie Thorpe, Schools and Youth Programmes Manager at the Co-operative College, told the News: “We share with the schools their deep disappointment that the plans for the substantial refurbishment or replacement builds of what, in so many cases, are dreadfully rundown buildings, have been stopped. 

“If we are serious as a country in putting education at the heart of strengthening people’s employment prospects and economic well being, then they deserve decent learning facilities. Unless you are engaged on a regular basis with schools it is difficult to explain to people just how run down many schools are due to the chronic lack of capital investment in the past.”

Other schools within the network proposals for refurbishment are unaffected, due to the advanced stage they were at, which includes the two co-operative trust schools in Telford whose new builds are to go ahead.


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