Education secretary Michael Gove has pledged the rebuild of a Northumberland school will go ahead as planned despite its recent troubles.
The minister has given assurances over Prudhoe Community High School after questions were raised following the school’s damning Ofsted report and the loss of its headteacher.
The news was last night welcomed by Hexham MP Guy Opperman, who was among the first to receive the written guarantee having campaigned for the new build.
The school was one of three Northumberland County Council put forward for Department of Education funding.
It was successful, although the site was not to be given money in the first round of the department’s spending programme. The county council has vowed to make up any shortfall in the rebuild costs.
The high school was one of 17 in Northumberland visited by inspectors in October amid concerns over standards of education in the county.
Inspectors found the school’s leadership and management to be inadequate and placed it in special measures.
Then, governors revealed they were considering seeking academy status – something which would take the school out of local authority control and sparked questions over whether the county council would stick to its funding pledge.
The school was further rocked by the departure of long-standing headteacher Dr Iain Shaw.
Now, Mr Gove has put an end to speculation and confirmed that the school will be rebuilt.
In his letter to Mr Opperman, the minister said he was aware of the school’s recent difficulties, as well as the “urgent need” to address the condition of the existing buildings.
“I am pleased to be able to reassure you that my department and I fully support the school’s improvement, and will continue to work closely with the governors and all staff, to ensure the pupils and parents of Prudhoe have access to the best education we can provide.
“As with all schools in the Priority School Building Programme, provided pupil premium demand exists, the department will address the condition of the school, to ensure the rebuilding programme can proceed.”
Last night, Mr Opperman said he expected the project to be complete by the end of 2015.
He said: “I hope the confirmation that the rebuild of Prudhoe High, with a brand new school building, will now definitely be going ahead will provide some welcome good news for pupils and parents alike.”
The MP said the pledge would end “decades of no investment in Tynedale’s schools.”