A Sunderland school has been promised an extra £400,000 by the Department for Education after a meeting between Houghton and Sunderland South MP, Bridget Phillipson and Schools Minister David Laws.

The new cash was promised after local MP, Bridget Phillipson stepped in to raise concerns about delays in the government’s Priority Schools Rebuilding Programme where Hetton and schools across the north east had planned work delayed. The £400,000 will support a new speech and language unit at the school.

In letters to the Department for Education, Ms Phillipson emphasised the condition of the school, stating:

“drainpipes have fallen from buildings, three areas of the school have been closed due to the movement of asbestos ceiling tiles in the wind, and there have been heating failures in four different areas of the school.”

Hetton School was previously scheduled to be rebuilt under the Labour government’s Building Schools for the Future programme that was later scrapped in 2010 by the Department for Education.

The Department has confirmed it anticipates rebuilding work at Hetton School will now start at the end of 2014, a year later than originally planned. The new school would open in time for September 2016.

Bridget Phillipson MP said:

“I have asked the Minister for written confirmation but teachers, parents and pupils should now be reassured that work to rebuild Hetton School is scheduled to begin at the end of 2014. Unfortunately, this a year later originally planned.

“The Department for Education has also now promised that Hetton School will be receiving an extra £400,000 for a specialist speech and language unit as part of the new building.

“However, if the government encounter further problems securing funding for the scheme, the start date could be pushed back another year. This would be unacceptable and I will be keeping up the pressure on the government to stick to their timetable.”

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