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Brought up to expect the State to pay

Heather Jones, headteacher at the split-site Yardleys School for the past 11 years, said she was initially unenthusiastic about the PPP initiative.

She said: "We were brought up to expect the Government to pay for schools and hospitals. But this was the only way to get better facilities for the pupils, which is what I care about most. Our main building dates back to Victorian times and it is uneconomic to heat. We have temporary classrooms that are now 30 years old.

"Teachers and pupils have to walk half-a-mile between classes because of problems imposed by our split site. These are at last going to be resolved. When we tried to get new premises built eight years ago, the Government said there was no money. The education authority could not afford the Pounds 10 million we needed. Now we expect building work to begin in January next year."

Peter Farrell, Birmingham's capital programmes officer, said that the council was seeking more sophisticated and imaginative ways to raise capital from private enterprise.

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