A York MP has raised the plight of an historic school in an “astounding” state of disrepair in which children have lessons in stables and aircraft hangers.
Rachael Maskell said she “cannot believe there is a more urgent case on the minister’s desk” as she urged the Government to approve a bid for the rebuilding of All Saints Roman Catholic School.
The school, which is split across two sites near the centre of York, struggles to refurbish its estate as it is in a conservation area, meaning repair costs are much higher in order to reach the required aesthetic standard.
All Saints was founded in 1686 as the Bar Convent Girls School when York-born nun Mary Ward began a mission to educate girls in the Catholic faith.
The school, which is rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, is currently waiting to see if it will be successful in the next round of the school’s rebuilding programme.
Labour’s York Central MP Ms Maskell told a Westminster Hall debate: “Some of the teaching areas are in former aircraft hangars, which are too cold in winter and too hot in summer.
“Lessons take place in stables no longer fit for horses and yet children learn in these places, including up the steep stairs to the hayloft at the top – is this really what the Government envisage as a suitable learning environment?”
The dining facility at the school is so small children can only spend six-and-a-half minutes at lunch and the site has plumbing issues.
“I have to say the stench in some of those corridors turns your stomach and unfortunately that’s the environment children are having to work in,” Ms Maskell added.
“I witnessed holes in the floor in the school gym and when I went around there was a new hole in the floor where feet had gone through from children playing sport. The ceiling tiles – if there were many – had been falling as well.”
The school also needs a new boiler system and fire alarm, as it cannot be heard throughout.
Both sites are accessible to the public and the upper site is on the way to York Racecourse.
“Needless to say that the behaviour of inebriated racegoers does pose a risk as they urinate on the way back to the city through the school premises – safeguarding risks do need to be taken into account,” Ms Maskell added.
Many schools have been waiting for repairs since the Conservative-led government scrapped the building schools for the future programme, started under the Labour government, when they came to power in 2010.
Minister for Higher and Further Education, the Rt Hon Michelle Donelan, said York Central had received “substantial investment” from the Department for Education to help maintain and improve the condition of school buildings and grounds.
She added: “I know that we will be announcing shortly those schools that have passed the bar in terms of the nomination process and I ask the honourable member to be patient till we’ve done that to see if her schools are on the list.”