Ambitious plans for college development

GOVERNORS at Ely College have given the green light to a �2.5m bid for the development of a new two storey science block and the transformation of existing science rooms into new classrooms.

The plan was lodged this week with the Department for Education (DfE) as a part of its �276m Academies Capital Maintenance Fund.

If successful, the bid would enable the College to vacate the upper floors of the Needham’s Tower, which the college says is no longer suitable for use.

Principal Catherine Jenkinson-Dix, said: “Since we have become an Academy, we are now in a position to bid directly to the DfE for capital funding. We have been working with our architects for some time now, drawing up a rolling capital renewal programme that would enable us to develop a school site more appropriate for the 21st century, without disruption to the ongoing work of our staff and students.

“Although there are no guarantees, this new round of government funding presents the ideal opportunity to get the ball rolling.”

The bid is the first phase of an ambitious long term development plan that could see the school’s entire stock of buildings replaced over the next 10 years. It comes just three years after �5.5m was allocated to the College by the Local Authority to fund the replacement of Needham’s Tower, only to be withdrawn at the last minute due to funding cuts.

The colleges says the plan is ambitious in scope but also realistic in terms of the availability of public funds, taking account of Ely’s predicted population growth, and the proposed development of a new secondary school in Littleport.

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“We recognise that there just isn’t the money in the system these days to bid for a whole rebuild in one go,” added Bill Harrison, chair of governors, “but Ely is long overdue investment in this vital public resource. This incremental approach is the only realistic way for us to make our plans a reality, and to attract capital funds. The impact of not having had sufficient investment here for many years means that we now have a very strong case.”

The DfE is expected to announce which bids have been successful in late May, after which the College will display its short and long term plans to parents and the wider community.