Valerie welcomes Schools Minister to Joseph Leckie Academy

On Thursday 14 January 2016 I welcomed the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb MP to Joseph Leckie Academy to view the conditions of the Academy’s 1939 main teaching block, which is in urgent need of replacement.


I am pleased the Minister visited Joseph Leckie Academy. The building opened in 1939 and is in urgent need of replacement. Until it is replaced, staff and students have to contend with damaged masonry, asbestos, leaking roofs, water running down the inside of the wall near to electrical sockets and rotting window frames and doors.


Accompanied by the Academy’s Principal, Keith Whittlestone, and other senior staff, I showed the Minister the urgency of securing funds to replace the block. I showed him water damage in the Library and damp in the stairwells as well as a toilet block which has been closed owing to its state of disrepair and classrooms with damage from leaking walls and ceilings.


I told the Minister that money allocated under Building Schools for the Future, which was cancelled in 2010, would have funded a new school and the demolition of the main teaching block.


I had raised the urgent need for funds with the Prime Minister at PMQs and with the Secretary of State at Education Questions. I also met with the previous Schools Minister in July 2013 with Mr Whittlestone, the Head Teacher, to emphasise the urgent need for funds.


At the meeting in 2013 with the then Schools Minister, David Laws it was agreed that an official from the Department for Education would visit Joseph Leckie Academy to see the state of the buildings and to advise the school which funds it could apply for. The Academy was advised to bid to replace the main teaching block with two new blocks. I was delighted a year ago when it was confirmed that our meeting resulted in the Academy being awarded an initial £3.4 million for the construction of the first replacement teaching block which is due to open in March this year.


The Academy is currently bidding for £3.9 million to construct the second new teaching block which will enable it to put the 1939 main teaching block out of use. The outcome of the bid will be known in March this year.


The Principal and staff have worked hard to minimise the impact of the building issues and last year this resulted in an 11% increase in the number of pupils gaining 5 GCSEs at A*-C including Maths and English.


Further information about Joseph Leckie Academy is available here.