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Work on replacing ‘appalling’ classroom blocks at Falkland Primary School in Wash Common, Newbury will begin in the next year, West Berkshire Council confirms

Work will begin to replace two outdated and prefabricated classroom blocks at a Newbury school this upcoming financial year, West Berkshire Council has confirmed.

The upper and lower junior schools (Years 3 to 6) at Falkland Primary School in Wash Common are currently housed within these two modular buildings that have been described as “appalling” by councillors.

The council first proposed to replace these classrooms in 2020/21, but the Covid pandemic and other reasons stopped them from being able to do so.

Falkland Primary School in Wash Common, Newbury
Falkland Primary School in Wash Common, Newbury

However, the council’s executive portfolio holder for children, education and young people’s services Heather Codling (Lib Dem, Chieveley and Cold Ash) has confirmed that work to replace these blocks will begin in the upcoming financial year.

She said: “I have been talking to officers about the capital programme generally for schools and this has been one of the ones that has been at the top of our list to get fixed.

“It is in our capital programme currently for the design phase to start in 2024/25, with the build starting in 2025/26.

“I have had quite a lot of correspondence with parents. They are pushing to get it done sooner, but we had already decided we were going to try and do that.”

And although the original plans were for the build to begin in 2025/26 Mrs Codling said it would begin in the 2024/25 financial year.

Mrs Codling wanted to reassure parents that the council is focusing on its responsibility to the school following its forced closure last week due to serious health and safety concerns.

Falkland was closed after a water leak in the roof during half term left the school without heating, lighting and hot water.

Mrs Codling added: “With the current situation and the problems with the electrics being out, I think parents have got the impression that the school is being neglected.

“We are not neglecting it at all.

“We’ve been working hard to sort out our capital budget and essentially, we want to get on with it as well.

“The design phase is due to happen this coming year, but we are going to start work this coming year as well.”

One Falkland parent was full of praise for the teaching staff and leadership at the school, but was critical of how the new classroom project has been handled over recent years.

They said: “The school staff have been fantastic and I cannot praise the new headteacher enough.

“She has really tried to make the best of a terrible situation.

“I do believe this is a massive mess-up and I am not sure where the responsibly lies.

“The temporary situation will cost the school dearly when we should not be in this situation as is.”

Last July the council issued an architect’s brief for tender for a £4m extension to the primary school.

The winner of the estimated £200,000-to-£300,000 contract will draw up plans for a new eight-classroom structure to replace two outdated modular buildings at Falkland.

The project, now planned to complete in 2025, will create a new “suitable, efficient and affordable” two-storey teaching block providing more energy and space efficient facilities for the 1960s school.

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