HEADTEACHERS and pupils in Brent have been left devastated following the announcement that plans to rebuild their schools have been scrapped.
The timing couldn't have been more poignant for those affected. As the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove MP, addressed the House of Commons last Monday (June 5), youngsters from Alperton Community School, Copland Community School, Cardinal Hinsley Mathematics and Computing College and Queens Park Community School were presenting their plans and ideas at a Brent Council meeting.
The four schools had been promised £80 million in funding under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.
Maggie Rafee, headteacher at Alperton Community School, said: "There can be no denying that the news about the BSF programme being axed is absolutely devastating.
"This will mean our school will face uncertainty while we await the outcome of the review and go through whatever new hoops are set to secure the capital monies that the minister announced will still be available for schools in the greatest need.
"Our school will do whatever is necessary to make politicians sit up and take notice."
Students at Alperton have already written to the Secretary of State for Education and invited him to visit the school to see why they desperately need the money.
Richard Kolka, headteacher at Cardinal Hinsley, said: "We had got to the point where we were looking at designs and talking to architects. It is an old building and doesn't provide the learning opportunities in the 21st century for the boys going into the modern world.
"Obviously to lose out on such a big project is disappointing but the spirit of the school is strong enough to make progress."
Councillor Ann John, Leader of Brent Council, said the decision will have a devastating impact on the educational opportunities of Brent's pupils for generations to come. She said: "The rising population in the borough has meant a shortage of school places and, with many of our schools in poor condition, this investment was vital.
"We will be drawing on the support of our MPs to argue our case to Government for this much-needed investment that goes beyond new buildings. Without funding Brent will not be able to meet the demand for pupil places in the future."
Brent entered into the national BSF programme in November 2009 and an initial £80m was allocated to cover the rebuilding and expansion of the four schools.
The council, which has spent £591,000 since 2008 in developing Brent's case for the vital funding, planned to create an extra 14 forms of entry, about 2,068 new places, by 2019.
Sarah Teather (pictured), Liberal Democrat MP for Brent Central and Minister for Children and Families, said it was upsetting Brent schools had "been led up the garden path".
She said: "Brent children who desperately need new classrooms have had their hopes raised and dashed only because Labour wanted parents' votes.
"The lasting legacy of the previous Labour government is a string of extravagant election promises and not enough cash to pay for them.
"Labour have been reckless with schools money and reckless with their promises. They need to stop treating local people like fools.
"Everyone knows that money is tight and Labour’s cheques aren’t worth the paper they are written on."
What the pupils have to say:
Farzana Khanom, 13, from Alperton Community School, said: "Our school is broken. It's rusty, dirty and it looks like it is going to fall down. It's so old I wouldn't be surprised if one day it fell down when students are doing exams".
Rina Ramesh, 13, from Alperton Community School, said: "I think Alperton students deserve a new school, a better school, because everybody would be able to achieve better grades."
Bjorn Marsh, 13, from Alperton Community School, said: "The building we are currently in is very old. It has leaking roofs. We need a new school and deserve one because we at Alperton work very hard and we would do much better if we had a new school."
Kimberley Lambert, 13, from Alperton Community School, said: "We need a new school so that children who cannot afford a private school can get an equally good education, resulting in better jobs and career choices."