Published: 15:32, 22 July 2021
| Updated: 15:43, 22 July 2021
Four schools in Kent will receive millions of pounds in funding as part of a major rebuilding programme set out by the government.
Among them is Orchards Academy in Swanley after a long-running campaign to improve the school in St Mary's Road proved successful.
The Department for Education announced this week two primaries – St Mary's Primary in Deal and Pilgrim's Way Primary in Canterbury – and one secondary – Wrotham School in Wrotham – will join Orchards in receiving cash.
Specific amounts being allocated to each school are due to be confirmed after plans for the rebuilds are finalised.
They are part of the School Rebuilding Programme which saw 50 schools across the country named in the second tranche of funding.
The first 50 schools were confirmed in February but did not include any in Kent and Medway.
The campaign for Orchards has been led by Sevenoaks MP Laura Trott, county councillor Perry Cole, Swanley Town Council leader Michael Horwood and district councillor Lesley Dyball and school leaders.
Ms Trott says she has lobbied education secretary Gavin Williamson and minister Baroness Berridge to raise the case for Orchards.
A petition was presented in the House of Commons calling for the site in St Mary's Road to be rebuilt and was signed by 1,333 people.
Speaking on the announcement, Ms Trott said: "I am delighted. I know from my visits just how urgently repair is needed, and it has been wonderful to see the local community truly getting behind this campaign.
"The pupils and teachers of this school deserve a safe and inspiring building in which to learn.
"I am over the moon the government has listened to our campaign and will rebuild Orchards Academy."
Mr Williamson said the funding will help give children the chance to "learn in world class facilities" and "level up" the opportunities for youngsters across the country.
"The environment children are taught in makes such an enormous difference to their education," he added.
"As we build back better after the pandemic, with buildings that are net-zero in operation, this major 10-year rebuilding programme will help to shape the education of not only children now, but for years to come.”
Natalie Willbourne, executive head teacher at Orchards Academy, described the announcement as "wonderful news" and thanked Ms Trott and the school's trust Kemnal Academies Trust (KAT) for fighting to secure the funding.
"The prospect of replacing our tired old buildings with a new school is so exciting," she said.
"Being able to learn and work in modern, state-of-the-art, well-built buildings will be transformational.
"We are all proud of our school, now we will be able to be proud of the buildings too."
Dr Karen Roberts, chief executive of KAT, said: "This fantastic news means we will be able to focus on making the educational experience of the pupils even better.
"We all recognise the importance of a high-quality learning environment for the wellbeing and success of both our pupils and staff.
"The Swanley community will get the school buildings it needs and deserves. We are most grateful for the active and tireless support that Laura Trott MP has bought to the campaign for this rebuild."
The government programme is a £1 billion investment in schools announced last June and is set to transform 500 school buildings across England.
These include new classrooms, science labs, sports halls and dining rooms and will be net-zero carbon operation.
It will rebuild and repair primary, secondary, specialist schools and Sixth Form colleges.
Most of the projects are aimed to be finished in the next three to five years, the government said.