Valerie meets with Minister of State for Schools about Joseph Leckie Academy

On Tuesday 14 June 2016, together with Head teacher of Joseph Leckie Academy, Keith Whittleston, and Dennis O’Rouke, we met with the Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb MP, at the Department of Education to discuss the school’s Condition Improvement Fund (CIF).


Everyone connected with Joseph Leckie Academy were disappointed when the CIF applied for in December 2015, was rejected. The school was just 3 points short of obtaining sufficient points.
This is why I arranged a meeting with the Minister.


The Minister had a tour of the school on 14 January 2016 and could see that it was still in need of £4 million worth of funds to replace the main block and upgrade the dining area. At the meeting with the Minister on 14 June 2016, we stressed the importance of how urgently the extra funds were needed. All of the experts who inspected the school concluded that the main block is life-expired.


The school has received inconsistent feedback to its bids. In 2014/15 the Education Funding Agency (EFA) agreed that the building needed replacement and approved the funding for phase 1 replacement. In 2015/16 the EFA turned down the bid for phase 2 stating that the need for the block was not proven. The EFA has turned down the bid again for 2016/17, but this time because the value for money and project planning areas were not proven to be robust, despite both of these being updated from the previous year.


The assessors suggested that the value for money of the bid could be improved by including 3 quotes/ tenders but to do this would have cost around £250,000. It is unreasonable to expect the school to spend such a large amount of money when this risk would not have guaranteed success in the bidding round. If the school gained extra points on another criteria, the 3 tenders would not have been required. The criteria of the bid does not mention quotes/ tenders so I consider it unfair for the school to be penalised for not including it. This is why I will seek clarification from the Minister, whether the 3 tenders were mandatorily part of the criteria.


The staff and students are putting in the effort to ensure that they reach the required grades and they have made a huge improvement. Last year, there was an 11% increase in the number of puils gaining 5 GCSEs at A*- C, including Maths and English. They need to be supported with a good place to learn, not hindered.