Saturday, 20 August 2022

Crumbling school awarded £450,000

GILLOTTS School has been awarded £450,000 towards the cost of improving its buildings.

GILLOTTS School has been awarded £450,000 towards the cost of improving its buildings.

The Henley secondary will use the government grant for the refurbishment of its gym and to continue its programme of roof replacements.

Headteacher Catharine Darnton said: “Although our ultimate aim is to achieve a full rebuild of the school, securing sufficient funds in the current financial climate is exceptionally challenging.

“We have therefore been working hard, particularly since the end of the Building Schools for the Future programme in 2010, to make the most of the facilities we have now, both keeping them warm, dry and safe and looking to further enhance provision wherever we can.”

A total of £300,000 will be spent on refurbishing the gym, a former barn, which was built in the Sixties. It will have a new roof, windows and cladding and the changing areas will be refitted.

The grant will also pay for the repair of the roof of the design technology building. Work on both projects will start soon and should be completed in October.

An alternative access route to the grounds is being reinstated to allow the work to take place.

All site traffic will be directed away from the front of the school and around the northern perimeter of the site so as not to pass through areas occupied during the day.

This is the route historically used by staff to access the gym and for staff parking. This area will be fenced for security reasons. The school is also taking advice on how to lessen the visual impact of the work for users of the adjacent bridleway/ footpath.

A low-level boundary indicating fence will be constructed with guidance from a tree management specialist and using a professional grounds- keeping company.

The improvement of the alternative access route will require areas of scrubland in the school’s copse to be cleared and a suitable surface to be laid and this is being done with guidance and advice from the school’s tree maintenance and grounds- work contractors.

Last year, Gillotts was awarded £55,000 to upgrade its heating system.

In 2008, Ms Darnton unveiled plans for a £26 million rebuild of Gillotts, saying the secondary was heading for a “catastrophic failure” due to the poor quality of its buildings. She said: “We need a whole new school. To do nothing is not an option.”

Highdown School and Sixth Form Centre in Emmer Green has been awarded almost £1 million which will be used to replace the flat roofs of a number of school buildings to improve insulation.

Headteacher Rachel Cave said: “The roofs are desperately in need of replacing and heavy rain and snow has made the classrooms in these blocks unusable on occasions.

“Now the school will not have to find the money, this can be spent on other educational projects and so this has many direct benefits for Highdown pupils.”

The work will start in the summer holidays in time to secure the roofs for the next winter.

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