Seventies 'temporary' huts still in use

CASE STUDY
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The Independent Online
FRAN ABRAMS

Education Correspondent

A thought struck Janet Galt one day as she was sniffing the shoes of 32 five-year-old pupils in an attempt to locate some elusive dog-dirt: "Is this what I was trained for?"

Mrs Galt's class is taught in temporary accommodation, put up in the 1970s, and to get to the dining hall or to assembly they have to put on their coats and walk down a public lane popular with dog-walkers.

A desperately needed rebuilding programme at Whitehill County Infants School in Crowborough, East Sussex, has just been delayed because of uncertainty over levels of government funding. Meanwhile, children and staff continue to use outside lavatories and meals are eaten in a prefabricated hut erected in the 1940s. Each time pupils are walked from one end of the split site to the other, 15 minutes' teaching time is lost. That adds up to three and a half hours per week in winter, when coats have to be put on, and less in summer - a total of about four and a half weeks' teaching time a year.

This year, plans were drawn up, planning permisssion was granted and work began on clearing a nearby site. But now uncertainty about levels of government funding has brought a halt to proceedings. Instead of funding part of the project from revenue, as planned, the council will now apply for a loan.

Mrs Galt first visited Whitehill when the eldest of her four children, now 26, was about to start school. "When we were shown round, the head looked at my younger children and said they would be in the new school before the little ones arrived," she said.

Everyone hopes it will not take another 20 years for the promise to be fulfilled.

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