ST HELENS Council's cabinet member for education says the government's Rebuilding Schools Programme needs to be "expanded significantly".

The Star reported that Longton Lane Primary School is one of the first 50 across the country to be renovated thanks to government funding.

The Department for Education (DfE) announced 50 schools who will benefit from the School Rebuilding Programme.

The department says it has prioritised schools for the first 50 projects based on the condition of their buildings.

The government added that schools have been prioritised that are known to have Laingspan or Intergrid buildings, which are in the poorest condition as identified in data collected by the department.

However, St Helens' portfolio holder for education Cllr Kate Groucutt said, while welcoming the news over Longton Lane, that "many other schools" in St Helens are in need of investment.

READ > Longton Lane Primary School among first 50 selected in Rebuilding Schools Programme

Over the past year the council has been involved in plans to rebuild Ashurst Primary School in Blackbrook, for which proposals have been formally submitted, and to repurpose the former Red Bank unit in Newton-le-Willows for Penkford School.

However, Cllr Groucutt is calling for a big national programme is desperately needed and says the council has a limited budget due to "very little funding" over the last decade.

The cabinet member for education, skills and business said: "This is excellent news for Longton Lane Primary School. However the Government's school rebuilding programme is long overdue and needs to be expanded significantly.

"There has been very little funding for school buildings over the last decade, since the Labour Government's Building Schools for the Future programme was scrapped in 2010.

"We know that many other schools in St Helens Borough are in need of capital investment and we are using council funding to rebuild a number of our schools that are in the worst condition.

"But the Government really needs to expand this programme to address the last decade of austerity, and commit to providing the very best education environment for all our children and young people."

Announcing the first 50 schools to be included under the programme last week, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "Today we are launching the first phase of our ambitious new schools programme, with 50 rebuilds and 21 new free schools.

"The rebuilding projects are just the start of our major ten-year programme, transforming hundreds of schools and improving the education of tens of thousands of children. Alongside this, over 15,500 children will now benefit from 21 new free schools across the country as we look to build back better after the pandemic.

"I am determined to get all children back into education as soon as possible, and will make sure we do not let the pandemic stand in the way of giving every young person the opportunity to succeed, progress and fulfil their potential."