£7 million bid for Todmorden High and Ferney Lee rebuilds

Todmorden High School
Todmorden High School

Two Todmorden schools are set to be re-built as part of a £7m project if councillors give the go-ahead next week.

Calderdale Council’s cabinet will meet on Monday evening to discuss proposals to construct a new teaching block at Todmorden High and completely re-build Ferney Lee Primary School.

Both the headteachers have welcomed the proposals and are eagerly anticipating the outcome of Monday’s meeting.

If approved, building work could begin in the summer holidays.

A report from the council’s children and young people’s service, based on a feasibility study carried out by Langtry Langton Architects, said improved facilities will “create sustainable, dynamic 21st century learning environments for staff and children alike”.

Coun Steve Sweeney, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for communities who is also a Todmorden ward councillor, said: “This investment in the education of young people in Todmorden is great news.

“As a council we are in a difficult financial position, facing unprecedented cuts, but we see this investment in the future of Todmorden as a high priority.

“It is important that we use our capital programme effectively and these developments will both improve facilities and reduce running costs, allowing more resources to be spent directly on education.”

The proposal for Todmorden High is to site a new contemporary building at the centre of the current site and demolish the building used for English teaching and the Riverside block, which is vulnerable to flooding.

The estimated cost of the work is £4.25m.

Andrew Whitaker, headteacher at Todmorden High School, said the whole community will be on “emotional tenterhooks” awaiting cabinet’s decision.

“Since the announcement of a proposed new building at the school, our whole community has been energised,” he said.

“It is wonderful that the council is so publicly recognising the wonderful students, supportive parents and dedicated staff and governors by providing a building that we can all be so proud of.

“The investment will play a significant part in ensuring that Todmorden High School becomes an outstanding school in a short period of time.”

It is possible that Todmorden High could be identified as a school to be re-built as part of the second round of the Government’s Priority School Building Programme. If this was to happen, the council’s project would be withdrawn and the funding would be re-allocated to other priority building projects in Calderdale.

The preferred option at Ferney Lee School, as agreed with the headteacher and governing body, is to completely demolish the current building and provide a new modern facility on the land behind the current school building, at a cost of approximately £3m. Helen Hannah, headteacher at Ferney Lee School, said: “We are absolutely ecstatic that Calderdale Council is giving serious consideration to a significant investment in Ferney Lee Primary School.

“The pupils at this school deserve the very best possible start to their education in a building both fit for purpose and ready to adapt to the challenge of an ever-changing, dynamic 21st century curriculum.

“Such an investment would also mean that a larger proportion of our budget could be directed towards teaching and learning priorities, as opposed to maintaining and repairing what is effectively a 100-year-old secondary school building which is in poor condition.”

A new building for Todmorden High would end a long-running battle to provide improved facilities for children and staff.

Todmorden ward councillor Jayne Booth said it was a shame that Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker could not deliver on his pledge to replace the high school and instead it has taken a cash-strapped Labour led council to take the initiative.

Mr Whittaker said the proposals were excellent news and just what the council should be doing when it is responsible for children’s education.

“This announcement, I am sure, will free up much needed resources for other schools who are in need when a pending announcement on Government monies for re-builds is announced shortly,” he said.

“It is superb to see our Labour led council finally taking its responsibility seriously and this is excellent news for Todmorden High School, who have been needing a re-build for years but sadly never qualified under the previous Government’s re-building programme.”