Head’s delight as school rebuild could finally become a reality

Andrew Whitaker, headteacher at Todmorden High School.
Andrew Whitaker, headteacher at Todmorden High School.

Todmorden High’s headteacher has expressed his “overwhelming excitement” that a project to rebuild the school could begin in the near future.

On Wednesday, Coun Megan Swift, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, announced a feasibility study into the phased redevelopment of the school has been commissioned.

If the scheme proves viable, the council hopes to go-ahead with the building work as soon as possible, news which has delighted headteacher Andrew Whitaker.

Making the announcement, Coun Swift said: “Rebuilding Todmorden High School has been the council’s number one priority for more than ten years, but nothing has happened.

“We have been let down by the government, who cancelled Labour’s ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme, but have refused to accept the urgent need for a full replacement of the school.

“It’s clear that with the money available, we cannot commission a full replacement school in one go, so I have now asked officers to develop plans for a phased replacement.

“We would be looking at building a replacement for the worst parts of the existing building.

“We are hoping that the feasibility study will be complete early in the new year.

“If the scheme is viable, I would want us to take a decision to go-ahead as soon as possible.”

Coun Swift said funding for the project would come from a council pot of £20m ringfenced for building work at Calderdale schools.

Todmorden High has been hoping for a rebuild for a long time, but it has suffered setbacks on numerous occasions.

But this week’s announcment has raised hopes that the long wait could soon be over.

Mr Whitaker said: “This is the most fantastic news for the students of the school and the community of Todmorden.

“At last our young people will have a building that their incredible efforts deserve.

“This shows that the local authority has confidence in the governing body and senior leadership of the school and shares the view that this is a rapidly changing and exciting place to be.

“We look forward to working closely with local authority colleagues in the new year.”

Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker, who has campaigned for many years for the school to be rebuilt, welcomed the news, but said the council must be careful not to jeopardise any potential government funding for a new building.

“If Calderdale Council are prepared to pay for the rebuild themselves, it’s very exciting news,” he said.

“However, I would hate for them to do anything to damage any potential money from government for a full rebuild.”