MP lobbies PM over bid to re-build school

Ongoing battle to raise funds for new buildings at Todmorden High School'Pictured are Head teacher Helen Plaice with Rachel and Amber
Ongoing battle to raise funds for new buildings at Todmorden High School'Pictured are Head teacher Helen Plaice with Rachel and Amber

CALDER Valley MP Craig Whittaker has lobbied the Prime Minister over the ongoing battle to secure funds to re-build Todmorden High School.

Mr Whittaker raised the matter in Parliament during Prime Minister’s Questions, asking David Cameron when staff and pupils can expect an announcement on the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP) to which the school has applied.

Mr Cameron referred Mr Whittaker to the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, who has since contacted Mr Whittaker to say an announcement could be made in the coming weeks.

Mr Whittaker said he believes the Government has set aside £2 billion to re-build 100 schools and he hopes Todmorden High will be one of them.

“I have been lobbying about this for many years as a Calderdale councillor, a Parliamentary candidate and an MP.

“I think it’s vital,” he said.

“Todmorden High School never qualified under the previous building projects that the Government had because the criteria for Building Schools for the Future were they had to be areas of deprivation and be poor achievers.

“But Todmorden High is not, so it never qualified for money for replacing the school buildings.

“The new Government introduced the Priority Schools Building Programme, which has specifically two criteria: dilapidation and school places.

“When I did the review with Calderdale Council last year, the school fitted into that criteria.

“As a result of that, Calderdale Council applied, in conjunction with the school, for the school to be re-built.

“It would be right if Todmorden High School is re-built but we will have to wait and see.”

Helen Plaice, headteacher at Todmorden High School, said it is disappointing that there has been no news yet on whether the funding bid has been successful.

“It’s disappointing that the deadlines keep passing and we are none the wiser,” she said.

“However, we have just got to work within our school to make sure that the support that we give to students and the learning that goes on is as good as it can be.

“We have to make sure that the issues we have already faced don’t affect that.

“We hope in the near future we will get some good news but in the meantime we have to get on with the job at hand.

“The attitude of the students and staff here is that we are proud of what goes on inside our school. But we would like to have the infrastructure of a new school.

“I would like to thank the staff for their resilience because things like leaking changing rooms put extra pressure on them. I would like to commend them on their professionalism.

“Thanks to the local authority who are doing everything they can to support us.

“It’s a case of waiting until we have further information.”

Mr Whittaker is also pressing for funds to re-build Calder High School, Mytholmroyd, which was also included in Calderdale Council’s PSBP bid.

Calderdale Labour leader Tim Swift has criticised the ongoing process, saying answers are urgently needed to help the schools move forward.