Kempston’s Grange Academy has been awarded £2.26m in funding to replace decades-old portacabins with purpose-built classrooms.
The funding is part of the Government’s Condition Improvement Fund and will help replace five temporary buildings dating to the 1980s. Grange Academy worked with multi-disciplinary property and construction consultancy Ingleton Wood to secure the funding.
Over the years, the school has been forced to continually invest in patching up the deteriorating buildings, including repairs to roofs, walls, windows and doors of the portacabin classrooms.
The new funding will ensure that staff and pupils at Grange Academy will eventually be able to move into new purpose-built classrooms.
Catherine Assink, Headteacher of Grange Academy in Bedford, said, “We have a range of extremely old and dilapidated portacabin type classrooms where you can literally push your fingers through the walls.
“I am passionate about the well-being of all my staff and pupils, so to be awarded this bid, which will enable us to have decent accommodation, is an excellent achievement.
“When I met David (Cresswell, Partner at Ingleton Wood) and his team, they suggested that we submit a bid not to repair them but to replace them.
“I didn’t believe that we would ever be successful, not because the need wasn’t patently evident but because over the years you become a little pessimistic in relation to the system.
“Now the funding has been approved, we have a chance to make a real difference for all the pupils and staff at Grange.
“I can’t thank Ingleton Wood enough; their team’s knowledge and dedication is excellent and the results are plain to see.”
In January, Bedford and Kempston MP, Mohammad Yasin asked the Prime Minister to urgently review the funding formula for capital and revenue, so that schools for children with special educational needs and disability are not disadvantaged because they have fewer pupils.
“I’m absolutely delighted that the kids and teachers at the Grange Academy in Kempston will finally get the school they deserve,” Mr Yasin wrote in a Facebook post.
“I first visited Grange Academy in January and was shocked at the state of repair of some of the temporary classrooms.
“I hope the follow up letter [to the PM] highlighted their plight and made the Government rethink the rejected first bid.
“Congratulations to the headteacher, Catherine, the Governors and the Trust who fought hard to get the funding and carried on fighting despite the setbacks.”
The work at Grange Academy is set to start later this year and finish by Christmas 2021.
In total, Ingleton Wood secured over £20m in funding for school projects across the East of England from the Government’s Condition Improvement Fund.
David Cresswell, partner at Ingleton Wood, said: “Our teams worked very hard at the end of 2019 to speculatively produce hundreds of bids and we were worried that when the announcement of this bid was delayed that it may be cancelled due to COVID-19.
“Clearly this announcement is not only fantastic for the successful schools but also the portion of the construction sector that supports them.
“From consultants like ourselves to contractors and suppliers, this fund became vital when it replaced the more traditional ways of capital allocation to schools.
“We look forward to delivering these projects for the schools and seeing the pupils and staff benefit as well as their wider communities.”