Mary has called on the Government to make good on levelling up pledges and rebuild crumbing schools in her constituency.
On Tuesday, Mary secured and led a debate in Parliament on the rollout of the Government’s school rebuilding programme after local headteachers highlighted the worsening conditions in a number of schools in the City, with the Government so far not backing any of their bids.
Framwellgate School in Durham was originally earmarked for a rebuild by the Labour Government in 2009, however the rebuild was scrapped after the Conservative and Lib-Dem Coalition entered Government in 2010.
Mary spoke about the state which some schools in the constituency have been left in since the Conservatives came to power, first under the coalition Government of 2010-2015, and then under consecutive Tory Education Secretaries.
“These problems are not limited to a single school,” Mary told the Minister, “I have had almost identical discussions with headteachers across the constituency.”
Having spoken about the “shocking” details of disrepair in some schools, Mary then quoted directly from a local Primary School Headteacher who told her
“Our school is in a dreadful state – the classrooms are poorly ventilated and are freezing in winter and boiling in summer… tree root damage is prolific, our drains block regularly, we have ever increasing cracks in the walls and the floors, leaks under the floor and from the roof in some places, rising damp, a lifting hall floor…. I could go on!”
The debate was attended by cross-party MPs, and the Shadow Schools Minister Stephen Morgan MP who praised the City of Durham MP for “robustly interrogating Minister on this issue” and went on to state that “the disrepair of the school estate is now approaching national crisis status”
The Minister for Universities Michelle Donelan responded on behalf of the Government stating that there were schools in Ms Foy’s area that had been rebuilt, however schools cited by her were in the Conservative held constituencies of Bishop Auckland and Sedgefield.
However, the Minister also confirmed that Framwellgate School will be assessed by inspectors in the coming months with regards to need for a rebuild.
After the debate, Mary reacted saying
“The Government want people to believe that they are serious about levelling up, yet schools in Durham don’t have the rebuilds they were promised over a decade ago. Teachers are having to deal with classrooms that flood in heavy rain- that is not a learning environment that will equip pupils with the skills they need.
It is welcome the news from the Minister that Framwellgate will be assessed in the coming month ahead of future decisions on the school rebuild programme. But so far the school has had assessment after assessment- all acknowledging its dire condition- but no rebuild has been forthcoming. The Government need to put their money where their mouth is. Children in Durham deserve better and I will be keeping a close eye on the Governments progress on this issue”