£14 million upgrades for Castle and Marlwood schools

March 20 2019
£14 million upgrades for Castle and Marlwood schools

TWO secondary schools which had the dire condition of their buildings revealed in a BBC documentary will receive £14 million for improvements.

The money for Castle in Thornbury and Marlwood in Alveston is part of £78 million capital investment earmarked for 20 schools over the next four years in the latest South Gloucestershire Council budget.

Castle School Education Trust runs both secondaries and chief executive Will Roberts said he was “delighted” at the news, adding: “The condition of our school buildings has become an increasing problem over the years, with an urgent need for investment to ensure the sustainability of both schools for the local community into the future.”

He said the funding followed “two years of work behind the scenes” and said plans for the work would be finalised over the next few months.

We anticipate that some of the most urgent works will be able to start this summer, with the whole project phased over three years,” said Mr Roberts.

Exactly how and where the money will be spent is still to be decided.

The original plan at Castle was to ‘remodel’ facilities to offer more pupil places and enable the sixth form to be moved from Gloucester Road to the main school site. But a report presented to the council in March acknowledged that if land was used on the main school site for a sixth form, the school might not have enough space to expand years 7-11, as demand for places rises.

At Marlwood there is a surplus of places and the report said the site needed to be rationalised to ensure the school is sustainable. At the same time, a brand new free special school is to be built at the Marlwood site, which could share some resources and facilities with the existing secondary school.

Both schools have buildings in a poor state and a backlog of urgent repairs. Marlwood also has some “very specific challenges presented by a building which has suffered from a lack of sufficient investment over many years.”

Another feasibility study will now be commissioned by the council to come up with a ‘masterplan’ for both schools by July.

A spokesperson for the Castle School Friends association said: “While we welcome this investment in our local schools, this lump sum for building projects doesn't address the cuts to staff, including those who previously provided pastoral care to the children, and won't help provide fundamental equipment such as textbooks, paper and pencils.”

A spokesperson for the Friends of Marlwood School said: “FOMS is very happy that South Glos has decided to invest in the school and make the buildings so they are fit for purpose for the future, however this is after years of neglect.”

Council leader Toby Savage said: “Castle School and Marlwood are pillars of the community in the Thornbury area and this funding will give them a much-needed boost. We have worked hard to ensure that this investment into schools, the largest ever made by this council, benefits as many children as possible.”

Primary schools are also set receive investment, with £190,000 going to Crossways Infants and Juniors to replace their water systems, £50,000 for a new roof at Oldbury-on-Severn Primary School and £80,000 for Olveston Primary for rewiring the ‘old school’ building and replacing heating.