TO press for funding for new buildings at Chulmleigh Community College, North Devon Devon MP Nick Harvey and Devon s children s services leader Cllr John Smith and children s services head of strategic planning Vic Ebdon were meeting yesterday (Tues) with

TO press for funding for new buildings at Chulmleigh Community College, North Devon Devon MP Nick Harvey and Devon's children's services leader Cllr John Smith and children's services head of strategic planning Vic Ebdon were meeting yesterday (Tues) with schools minister Jim Knight MP at the House of Commons.Some existing buildings at the college are notoriously decrepit and have been the focus of campaigning at the school over the last couple of years for complete rebuilding. The blocks are "temporary" units, decades past normal life expectancy.Devon County Council has made Chulmleigh its top priority secondary school in its capital building programme for the next three years, with £1.4 million committed to the school. But this will only be enough for a new generation of temporary blocks. A permanent new classroom block will have to wait for the Government to release funds from its Building Schools for the Future programme.Mr Harvey said: "The Government has a 15-year programme to bring all secondary school buildings up to an acceptable standard. It makes serious money available for this through its BSF programme."This is all perfectly sensible in principle, but there are two problems in practice. Firstly they haven't yet allowed Devon, or most of the south west, access to the BSF programme - we have to wait until 2011 at the earliest."Secondly they have accumulated the money in the BSF 'pot' by top-slicing the funds they allocate to all local education authorities for secondary school buildings. So Devon's secondary schools are only allocated modest funds to keep up with basic maintenance and not with serious project finance for rebuilding. We have to wait until BSF reaches Devon for that."Yet we know the BSF programme is seriously under-spent in those parts of the country which have been allowed to take part in it so far." Mr Harvey added that Devon is willing to advance Chulmleigh's design and planning work if there was an indication that the Government might entertain an early bid for a new building at the college."So that is the case we are going to push at the meeting. Bideford's new college is being built as an early BSF project - so it is worth trying.