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Stop the rot

Chilcote primary is the kind of school that persuaded ministers that their new primary capital programme was necessary.

The Birmingham school was built in the 1950s for around 200 pupils. By the 1960s it was so popular that eight temporary classrooms were installed on the playground. They are still there today.

With 476 pupils, Don Courtney, the head, says his school is full to bursting. The hall is not big enough to hold a whole-school assembly and the playground has been cut down by half again. Both the main building and the mobile classrooms are timber framed and have started to rot. Staff are worried that top-floor window panes could fall out of their frames.

Ofsted inspectors warned as long ago as 1998 that the buildings were unsatisfactory. Help is finally at hand with work on a new pound;4 million building due to start next summer which means Chilcote will not need the Government's new primary building programme. But Mr Courtney is glad it is happening. He said: "For too long schools have been allowed to deteriorate until it gets to a point where things were almost irretrievable.

"It is good but it should have happened long ago. Too many children are in very shoddy educational accommodation."

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