THE Government has told a cross-party delegation of Southampton politicians there is no money to rebuild the city’s schools.
The blow comes just a day after it was revealed Southampton had slipped down the national GCSE league tables and has the worst-performing school in the country based on progress made by pupils.
The city has dropped four places nationally to 139th out of 151, according to the proportion of pupils leaving school with five or more A* to C grades, including maths and English.
Oasis Academy Mayfield had the lowest contextual value added score, which measures development between the ages of 11 and 16, of any school in England.
Labour MP John Denham and Tory education boss Cllr Paul Holmes travelled to Westminster with council children’s services director Clive Webster for a top level meeting with the Schools Minister to plead for extra cash for much-needed building projects in the city.
Southampton is facing a massive shortfall after the coalition government axed the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme last year.
The city had been promised £200m, with £110m in the first wave to completely rebuild five secondary schools and provide new IT facilities at three more.
Council bosses are also facing a massive shortfall as they try to create nearly 3,000 new places at primary schools to cope with a crisis caused in part by rising birth rates.
The authority has just £13m available for all school building projects, but expanding schools for under-11s alone could cost up to £38m.
The knock-on effect on secondaries is expected to cost another £15m within four years.
But Lord Hill told the trio Government coffers are empty, although he did pledge to order one of his senior officials to tour the city’s schools to see the problems first hand. The cross-party group hopes that will mean Southampton is given a better capital grant settlement next year.
Mr Denham said an assessment revealed tackling the “absolute minimum” level of repairs, including replacement windows, leaky roofs and asbestos-related issues, will cost £5m in the next financial year.
He said: “As well as that, a number of secondary schools went co-educational on the basis that the building programme was going ahead and they are now left with buildings that are unsuitable.
“The minister was very clear that there is no more money. What we did was put the case that when allocating money in future it was important that he understands Southampton’s needs.
“We were promised by David Cameron in the Daily Echo that the BSF programme would not be cut.
“It is frustrating we have lost the programme but we have to keep on at it now. I think we made a very strong case.”
Cllr Holmes said the meeting had been “successful”. He said: “It was a chance to put Southampton’s issues, challenges and successes to the minister, to raise its profile.
“He couldn’t give any guarantees or get his cheque book out, but officials will come and talk to us about any money that’s available in the future.”