Birmingham & Black Country

Sandwell Council in talks over schools' old buildings

A delegation from a West Midlands council has been to London to take part in a meeting about the future of school buildings.

Sandwell Council took part in the meeting in an effort to persuade the government to save the borough's £125m schools' modernisation programme.

The meeting, at 1500 BST was with Lord Hill, Minister for Schools.

Council Leader Darren Cooper put the case for replacing ageing facilities at nine secondary schools.

The move comes one year after the government scrapped Building Schools for the Future (BSF), a national investment programme.

The council and other local authorities won a judicial review of the decision, forcing the government to order a condition survey of the nine Sandwell schools.

At the time the government said it had won the case on the substantive points.

Crumbling classrooms

A spokesman for the Department of Education said the final decision on any project still rests with Education Secretary Michael Gove and no one should gain "false hope" from the judge's decision.

Cllr Cooper said: "We believe we have a very strong case for improving our schools.

"This is about fairness and value for money. If we don't bring schools up to scratch now, we will be condemning pupils to poor and unsuitable conditions and be forced to spend millions more on patching up classrooms as they crumble."

The nine schools were in the second wave of BSF projects.

Two BSF schools, Smethwick and Rowley Learning campuses, have already opened.

Work is under way on a further three schools - Wednesbury, Oldbury and Tipton campuses.

A 10th project, Oakham Pupil Referral Unit, was reconsidered separately, but the Department for Education has confirmed it will be included in the review.

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