23rd September 2019

Government praises Council’s ‘cost effective’ schools programme

Artist’s impression of Bower Lane

Somerset’s work to build and expand schools has been highlighted as a model of good practice by Government.

The County Council has been praised by Lord Agnew, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Education for its ‘efficient’ and ‘cost effective’ schools capital programme.

In his letter to the Council’s Chief Executive, Pat Flaherty, Lord Agnew said the Government had “identified Somerset County Council as one of the more efficient local authorities in delivering new schools or expansion developments based on recent projects.”

Lord Agnew also confirmed insights and examples gathered from the Council’s schools capital programme will be used to “develop guidance for all local authorities on cost effective delivery of new school places.”

Last year 13 projects were completed and 12 were commissioned or started at an estimated cost of £65 million.

New projects on the way to completion include the new £7 million, 14-class Nerrols Primary School in Taunton which will meet the increasing need for places in the north of the town and the new £9 million Hazelbrook Campus at Selworthy School in Taunton, which will provide up to an extra 100 places for pupils with a range of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities(SEND), including autism. Both are due to open in September.

Meanwhile a contractor has been appointed for an £18 million special school campus in Bower Lane, Bridgwater, and there are £600,000 worth of expansion projects taking place at Autistic Spectrum Condition Resource Bases in Yeovil.

Among the schools projects completed in 2018 was the new £7 million Kingfisher school in the Yeovil – built to meet the growing need for school places in the area, as well as the £7.4 million, 420 pupil Northgate Primary School in Bridgwater and a £4 million extension at Wincanton Primary School.

A Somerset County Council Spokesperson said: “We are proud of our track record on school build projects. The whole team has shown fantastic creativity and commitment to realise key project after key project on time and on budget, as we work to meet the growing need for school places in Somerset.”

“Being singled out in this way underlines that achievement.”