The Shadow Education Minister described the re-building plans at Todmorden High as a “very exciting project” during a visit to the school.
Tristram Hunt MP was joined by Josh Fenton-Glynn, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for the Calder Valley, and Labour Calderdale councillors for a tour of the school and a question and answer session with a group of students.
Headteacher Andrew Whitaker showed Mr Hunt the plants for the new teaching block on the school site, on which construction work is hoped to begin in the summer holiday.
Mr Hunt said: “I think it’s a very exciting project.
“I know there has been a history here of promised capital investment but it not being delivered.
“I think the most important thing is, now the funds have been secured, that the school proceeds with really making a statement about the value of education and the support for it.
“Ultimately it’s not about the building - it’s what happens in it and the exciting space you can create for learning.
“The design is important but the ethos inside makes the difference.
“Seeing the amount of neglect and decay in the physical infrastructure here, it does make a difference in terms of the young people’s sense of values and the importance attributed to education.
“But it’s not the whole story.
“It’s what takes place in the classroom and the passion for learning in it.”
Mr Hunt was shown around the new Incredible Edible aqua garden on the school site, which is being used to grow food and also as a teaching space.
“The aqua garden is inspirational,” he said.
“Combining healthy eating, vocational study, children getting their hands dirty and understanding the science is great.
“The enthusiasm, innovation and wanting to access new sources of learning is exactly what a school should be doing.
“I’m full of admiration.”
During the question and answer session, he asked the students what improvements they would like to see at the school.
Responses included better equipment, newer textbooks and more atomic physics on the timetable.
Mr Whitaker said: “One of the things I have been working hard on is making sure the students feel that they are happy and know we are proud of them. This visit enforces that.
“Rather than me standing in front of them in assembly, the fact that we have influential people here to see them is great.”
Mr Fenton-Glynn said: “It’s great that Tristram is here to see the fantastic work that is being done by the teachers at Todmorden High and the work that we have done to secure the funding for the school building.
“It’s important that we see the money for investment through the Calder Valley in education.”
l See our website for a video of the visit