New School Outfit

For Immediate Release
Item Number: 216/03

New School Outfit
Merton’s schools’ PFI building works on target for completion

While Merton’s school children were enjoying their summer holidays, some of the borough’s councillors went back to school and were hard at work. On 18 August 2003 Councillors Geraldine Stanford, and Danny Connellan donned hard hats and paid a visit to Merton’s Secondary schools, which are undergoing extensive building and refurbishment works.

The councillors were accompanied by London Borough of Merton (LBM) education and finance officers and were met by representatives of the NewSchools consortium, which is carrying out the building works under the terms of a Public Finance Initiative (PFI) contract signed with Merton Local Education Authority last year.

The purpose of the visit was to check the progress of the building works at the schools, which are high profile, unprecedented and will provide schools with new facilities for every aspect of their infrastructure. The beginnings of gleaming new sports halls, good-as-new classrooms and new landscaped grounds gave Cllr Connellan, Cabinet Member for Strategic Resources and Cllr Stanford, Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, a glimpse of what Merton’s pupils can expect of their schools when works are finished.

Cllr Stanford welcomed the chance to see the schools and said: “This marks a turning point for Merton’s schools. Everyone involved in this project, including school staff and governors, LBM officers, site managers, and NewSchools should be thanked for their hard work, which has ensured that this complex project is being co-ordinated so successfully.”

The PFI contract, which was signed during Schools Reorganisation, has enabled Merton to invest over £50m in its Secondary schools. Some schools are nearing completion and Bishopsford Community School should be ready this autumn. The work on the other five schools is due to be completed by the end of 2004.

New facilities include classrooms, and tailored teaching blocks for subjects including technology, drama and Special Educational Needs. Dining rooms and kitchens will also be overhauled and existing buildings will be extensively renovated. Many of the schools will have new walkways, links and corridors built to make them more ‘joined-up.’ In addition, school grounds will be landscaped and new parking added.

Each school site will have a new sports hall, and four schools will have new outdoor all-weather pitches,