Cash splash for schools
New classrooms, a sixth-form unit and other facilities are on the way following the approval of nearly £4.5m investment in north Norfolk's expanding schools.
Major beneficiaries are Suffield Park Infants, Cromer; North Walsham Junior; Sidestrand Hall School; and Cawston Primary.
The cash will mean no more uncomfortable mobile classrooms, inside toilets, a brighter future for children with special needs - and an end to staff squashing into a corner for their break-time cuppas.
The government Education Funding Agency cash, approved by Norfolk County Council's children's services committee on May 12, comes as building work continues on large numbers of new homes in Cromer and North Walsham, with other housing developments in the pipeline, which are expected to attract more families.
Suffield Park head teacher Jacqueline Bradford welcomed the £2.85m for her school which will build a block of six permanent classrooms, and mean that staff and pupils can say goodbye to four second-hand mobile classrooms.
Mrs Bradford said half of the school's 215 pupils were housed in mobiles, using outside toilets. She hoped the new classrooms would be ready by December next year.
The school's roll is due to reach 240 in September.
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'The mobiles are either boiling hot in summer or freezing cold in winter,' she said. 'The new classrooms will make a tremendous difference - light and airy. We just want to fast-forward to them now!'
Clare Fletcher, executive head teacher of the 590-pupil federation of North Walsham Junior, Infant School and Nursery, said they had converted their staff room into a classroom last year to accommodate a growing number of starters. A further 74 reception-age children and 84 juniors were due to join in September.
Their £760,000 pot would be spent on a replacement staff room, a link corridor between the junior and infants' schools and a new reception area. She hoped the work would be finished early next year.
'Staff have been having their tea in a corner of the room. They understand the reasons why, but it affects wellbeing,' said Mrs Fletcher.
The cash news is a bright spot in a week which has seen the second vandal attack at the school in six months. At the weekend £2,000 worth of damage was done when yobs smashed mobile-classroom windows, kicked in fencing, and ripped the roof and door off a metal shed.
But Mrs Fletcher said she had been heartened by the public response with Facebook posts suggesting names of culprits, and a group of well-wishers arriving to clear the mess in time for school on Monday.
Tenders to build a new sixth-form unit at Sidestrand Hall School were now out after a year's delay caused by false concerns that great-crested newts were living on the site, according to Roger Billings, chairman of governors at the school for children with special needs.
The £505,000 scheme follows £724,000 of completed work to create new units for children with Asperger Syndrome, and a project underway to provide a new science lab.
Cawston Primary will receive £400,000 for a new classroom.