FOUR NEW secondary schools and a special school will be built in Devon following the success of a major county council bid. The Government announced today that it was backing Devon County Council s bid for cash from the Building Schools for the Future pr

FOUR NEW secondary schools and a special school will be built in Devon following the success of a major county council bid.

The Government announced today that it was backing Devon County Council's bid for cash from the Building Schools for the Future programme.

It will mean new or substantially refurbished secondary schools for Chulmleigh, Dartmouth, Ilfracombe and Tiverton with new buildings for Marland special school near Torrington.

Work will start on planning the new schools almost immediately with building work beginning in three years.

Devon was one of 30 local authorities invited to bid for the early release of funds because of its success in delivering other projects.

Today's announcement will mean £80 million from the Government with Devon contributing up to £7 million.

Council leader John Hart said: "This will provide 21st century learning environments for hundreds of Devon students which I am sure will raise standards and ambition in the local community with this significant investment.

"It will also provide a major fillip for the economy in parts of Devon that badly need that boost.

"I was Devon's education lead between 2001 and 2005 when we re-built five new secondary schools in Exeter under the Private Finance Initiative.

"Since the schools were opened, academic results in Exeter have soared and I believe the modern learning environments we provided are a big part of that success.

"We are well aware of the advantages and potential disadvantages of PFI and my administration will ensure that this programme proceeds in a businesslike manner and delivers excellent value for money for the council taxpayers of Devon."

Devon's Cabinet Member for Schools and Skills, Christine Channon, said: "I am delighted that our bid has been successful.

"That is in no small part due to the hard work and commitment of the staff and governors in the schools themselves as well as the dedication of our county council BSF team led by Vic Ebdon and Simon Niles.

"This was a sensible set of proposals for schools that badly need to be replaced.

"These schemes will make a major contribution to economic and social regeneration in these towns and have a positive impact on a range of the services we provide, in addition to the primary aim of improving educational standards.

Devon County Council is already part way through a two-year programme of school building which is injecting over £180 million into the local economy. This is in addition to BSF.

The BSF programme will not only improve and replace schools but will provide new facilities for children, young people and families across the county.