Chalk Talk: One crumbling school that will finally be getting the builder's in


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The Independent Online

Some good news to report: a school whose inadequate facilities were highlighted on these pages only last month has finally got the facelift it so badly needs.

King's Langley secondary school, whose cause was championed by two leading private school headmasters, Dr Anthony Seldon from Wellington College and David Lewin from City of London Boys' School, has won approval for its building programme.

Both wrote to the Department for Education demanding action because conditions at the school "pose a constant risk to the health and safety of pupils". Many of its pupils are taught in 25-year-old "temporary" classrooms and the school's assembly hall has to be closed when there are high winds because of the risk of glass from the windows falling in on the pupils. It was one of 261 schools approved by Education Secretary Michael Gove in his priority school-building programme last week.

Headteacher Gary Lewis described the day he was told the news of the facelift as "a momentous day in the school's history".

Not such a momentous day for all, though. In all, 587 priority projects were put forward and that leaves 326 still missing out.

Still, we should not be churlish on such occasions. One of the benefits for King's Langley's pupils is that their top-flight dance troupe (the school is a specialist performing arts college) may no longer have to practise on the hard floor of the assembly hall – which can be ruinous to the dancers' feet.

* At a visit to the dentist last week, you can imagine how I recoiled in horror as I saw his surgery had been passed as "satisfactory" by the appropriate watchdog.

Eek, I thought, satisfactory is not good enough and means requires improvement, as I remembered the Ofsted mantra. It will soon be failing if it does not pull its socks up. How the hell do I get out of here?

Turns out, though, that satisfactory is the highest ranking that the dentists' watchdog give to practitioners. Funny how official language can change from one public service to another.