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Shadow secretary: Schools 'could return to dark ages'

Shadow education secretary Andy Burnham has warned that schools could be sent back to the ‘dark ages’ with crumbling classrooms and inadequate equipment as a result of cutbacks

Labour has claimed that most schools will see their budgets to cover maintenance and repairs drop by 80 per cent in 2012 due to the coalition government’s austerity measures.

Research completed for the independent House of Commons Library shows that secondary schools will lose an average of £86,000 from their budget for building work, repairs and computers. Meanwhile, primary schools will lose around £26,000.

Burnham said: ‘We are looking at a return to the bad old days of the 1980s when children tried to learn in crumbling classrooms with equipment not up to the job.

‘With these cuts Michael Gove is sending schools back to the dark ages.’

Gove’s aides said that the Government had already confirmed that funds directly allocated to schools would be ‘much lower next year.’

An aide said: ‘The reality is that on average we will be spending more on education capital over the next four years than Labour did in its first two terms.

‘But unlike Labour we will be doing it efficiently and quickly and targeting schools most in need. Waste was endemic in Labour’s school building programme.

‘We have prioritised frontline education spending and money for the poorest children rather than extravagant and expensive buildings.’

Gove will shortly write to the six councils that won a review of their Building Schools for the Future stoppages, inviting them to make their cases for funding and to set out timescales for meetings to assess their claims, reported Construction News.

Gove was earlier this month ordered by a High Court judge to reconsider his decision to scrap 58 schools projects across the six counties.

The judge ruled that the education secretary Gove acted unlawfully in failing to consult councils that had outline business case approval before scrapping their projects. He also found the education secretary unlawfully failed to give due regard to the equality impacts of his proposed decision.

Six contractors stand to share up to £1 billion of work if the projects are rescued.

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