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Archbishop Lanfranc still in the dark over school renovation funding


RUN-DOWN Archbishop Lanfranc is no closer to being rebuilt -a year after it was included on a list of schools to receive government funding for renovation or new buildings.

Head teacher David Clark, who remains in the dark about how much money the high school will get or what it will be spent on, has described the lack of progress as "very frustrating".

Mr Clark is no stranger to disappointment when it comes to the prospect of the school, in Mitcham Road, being rebuilt.

Lanfranc, which has 1,048 pupils on its books, had been included in the previous Labour Government's Building Schools for the Future programme, but the coalition abandoned the scheme.

"It seems like a carrot is being constantly dangled in front of us but we're never able to reach it," said Mr Clark.

Hope of desperately needed repairs to the building, which has had little refurbishment since being built to cater for 800 pupils in the 1950s, was rekindled last June when Lanfranc was included in the Government's Priority School Building Programme.

At the time Mr Clark welcomed the news, saying: "We have classrooms which are too small to fit classes in and corridors so crowded the children can't easily move around the school.

"There are times when the school is literally gridlocked because there is no space."

Since then the need for major improvement works – or a complete rebuild – has only increased. There is, however, no sign of that happening any time soon.

Mr Clark said: "All we know is there will be a conversation with someone from the Department for Education in the autumn.

"With a view to what, we don't know.

"If we're not going to be any further down the line than that then I will leave you to work out when building work – whatever that entails – will start. It certainly won't be in the near future."

Mr Clark could be forgiven for casting an envious eye at Quest Academy in Selsdon, which announced earlier this month that it will be subject to a £16 million rebuild.

Croydon Council has already appointed Wates Construction to undertake the work, which is expected to be completed by September 2014.

"The announcement that Quest is getting a new building fairly soon seemed encouraging at first," said Mr Clark.

"I know their need is quite great as well, and good luck to them that they got it, but why has it happened for somewhere else and not here?"

When asked whether he thought academies were being given priority, Mr Clark said: "It's pretty clear where all the money is going at the moment."

Last week, Croydon was allocated £63.2 million over the next two years for new school places – more than anywhere else in the country.

The council, which will still have to borrow £100 million over that period to create extra forms of entry, will not be using any of the money to refurbish outdated school buildings.

For Archbishop Lanfranc, the wait must continue.

"It's very frustrating but we have to put the building out of our minds," said Mr Clark. "The children are more important."

The Advertiser contacted the Department for Education on March 8 but have yet to receive an update on Lanfranc's situation.

Archbishop Lanfranc still in the dark over school renovation funding

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