New SFG College building won’t be completed until late 2027

Education / Thu 30th Nov 2023 at 08:20pm

HARLOW MP Robert Halfon has announced that the SFG College building will be demolished and completely re-built.

The announcement was made at an on-line meeting between government ministers inc Baroness Barran; chief executive of BMAT, Helena Mills and an on line audience.

The downside was that they do not expect building to be completed until autumn 2027.

That news did not gone down well with parents and children who are now facing the possibility that the majority of children will never experience being in a “real” school building.

The present year 7 will be in year 11 come the beginning of the academic year 2027-28.

At the beginning of the meeting, Harlow MP Robert Halfon issued a statement announcing the rebuilding of the school but then he explains that as he was a minister in the education department, he was subject to a code and so passed the main part of the meeting to Baroness Barran.

The first half of the meeting concentrated on a timeline. They detailed the short term, medium term and long term.

The medium term concentrated on the tents being replaced with portakabins. They should be in place by April 2024.

The long term detailed the whole planning process which involves design, procurement and planning permission.

Many of the questions on line centred on help for learning, exam time, summer schools and sports provision.

Questions were asked regarding any investigation into what happened? Both the Baroness and department for education officer, Bruce Crowther explained that there would be an external audit “we won’t be marking our own homework”.

There may have been eyebrows raised when they said future recommendations would include having some form of clerk of works on site. Many, may have been surprised that there wasn’t one in the first place.

Many expressed a sense of despair at the time line. One person made reference to the on going building delays for a new hospital for Harlow.

Helena Mills fielded and passed on many of the questions. The final question asked whether the “audit” would look into how the contracts were made and would the investigation attempt to establish whether any corruption took place. They were told that the audit would look at processes.

When the meeting was completed on line, parents who watched it in the SFG temporary structures had a chance to speak with Ms Mills.

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20 Comments for New SFG College building won’t be completed until late 2027:

Catherine Searle
2023-11-30 20:47:08

The meeting was a carefully stage-managed farce. Webinar so parents could not speak and moderated comments. Swerved the difficult questions at every opportunity and constantly referring to Helena Mills (BMAT) to answer questions. She even said the parents want to hear from the ministers and not from her. New school won’t be built until 2027 - so practically every parent on that call will see zero benefit. This is a scandal, and yet again it’s being censored and covered up. Roll on the general election, I’m looking forward to getting my kids back into the education service they deserve. #helpsfg

Luke Burton
2023-11-30 21:13:01

Of course there won't be an investigation into any corruption. The rule one of opening an inquiry is NEVER to open an inquiry to something if you do not already know the outcome of it yourself. That is the principle on which all politicians including The Baroness Barran MBE, an unelected investment banker operates on. By the way, if the Conservatives get another 5-years in power you can wave goodbye to SFG being re-built. They've already shown their true colours.

2023-11-30 21:21:59

How about stimultaneously expanding every school in Harlow and the College to take the children from SFG and engaging architects and companies that built Passmores to build exactly the same on FSG site. Emergency special measures are needed here and 2027?- simply isn't good enough. How can temporary cabins provide a school with all of the specialist rooms for science, technology etc that's needed?

A Grandparent
2023-11-30 22:16:04

Pathetic. No confidence in any of them .they should resign

2023-11-30 22:38:08

The investigation into the spend, poor structural supervision, people signing off on standards that clearly failed, will be another whitewash. If the tories lose the next election they will say nothing to do with me guv. If they stay in power, there will be more reshuffles so one minister can say, that was yesterday and I am new. Financial accountability would normally mean those that stuffed up, pay to correct it but we know that won't happen either. It will be the taxpayer that pays for the same school build...TWICE, plus the cost of the temporary measures required. So now what? Our MP who had the inside track on this building goes into not me guv in the same way the much publicised new hospital now has no start or end date and is likely to be so over budget that they will build what they can afford and it's likely to be smaller than the one we have. Our kids, our town deserves better, much better. I'm fed up of seeing "I'm working really hard for the people of Harlow" but Harlow getting shafted left right and center by our mp and our council. In private business there is accountability, in government services/contracts there is none. Those involved with sfg and the new hospital should step down in embarassment.

Full Time Working Mother with an SFG child
2023-11-30 23:57:15

This meeting was there to discuss our children’s present and current schooling reality!! Don’t politicise my child’s education!! Yes, there needs to be accountability but this issue needs splitting - the focus on present impacted children/school/Trust and current action/DfE funding/ support to provide high quality education in a good setting was never more required than now alongside the investigation / review / accountability on what occurred. Conflating the two is not helpful!! There are real children and real families and real staff who are living this reality now!! We need practical solutions that focus on our children today, their GCSE’s are only a few short months/ years away. Whilst answers are needed and the town absolutely needs the school rebuilding etc the DfE and the DfE legal processes back to contractors / DfE appointed building control) need to pick up the bill for their mistakes. This is not just rebuilding costs but today’s additional needs driven by the site issues/ poor site provision need to be funded. My child’s senior years are limited we need DfE action now in 2023!! Most current pupils don’t have the benefit of time for 2027!! Four school years’ worth of GCSE’s will have been completed before this building is likely to be ready!! We need action and concentration on delivery and wrap around care /spport/ trip opportunities/ extra curricular activities and additional lessons/ learning support for today’s children!! I’m glad tomorrow’s children will get a new school … so what’s happening for today’s children this cannot be a school matter only it’s a DfE / Essex County Council reality that must be funded properly in lieu of what’s been taken from our children. Don’t politicise my child’s education!! Provide tangible action for today’s child not just tomorrow’s!!! An example of positive action from the schools was Saturday school / Summer school. Education will give the children choices…SFG ethos is all about education…. Support the school / Trust in delivery!! DfE need to take responsibility for its mistakes and grow the offer for today’s pupils!!! Now!!!

Nick Gunning
2023-12-01 08:12:55

With most Harlow schools built in the foaming concrete era, we now have the prefabricated era too- but just this school but the buildings at the local hospital! And, of course, many of these buildings may not even have been inspected! As for 'Multi-Academy-'Trusts''(oxymoron) with schools taken out of the hands of democratically elected government and handed over to grubby profiteers, maintainance of most of the older buildings is questionable. This school is a gimmick produced by government that is superficial and hollow. Its just a '40 hospitals' dead-cat being tried in schools. All the academies and 'free schools' have been expensive, failed experiments.

Ray (hacked off parent)
2023-12-01 08:58:56

I'm lost for words on this, but here's a few in any case. I was to attend the meeting yesterday but decided that a no-show in person by the DFE was not in my son's nor my best interest. I did not go online either in utter disgust. My son has spent junior years in lockdown, missing the last year of school, and all the pomp and party that should have gone with it. He then moved into temporary Porta Cabins for the first part of his senior education (BM on behalf of SFG), now remains in the exact same situation until the end of his senior school education. That is not traditional school life, he will have missed a large chunk of stability during all this. You could say why not move him to another School, good question? It is his feelings that we consider, there are other things that have happened recently all to take into account for his "Well-being". Hoever I am no expert on this, but rather than pulling the building down, can it not be made structurally sound with an inner RSJ support frame of some sort, If a 1000-year castle can be made safe for visitors why not this building? and a fraction of the cost.

2023-12-01 09:11:46

I'm worried about Robert Halfon. He said he would meet SFG parents last night to answer their questions. We later learnt he couldn't be there in person because he had something more important to do in Westminster. Disappointing, but fair enough, because he said he'd answer questions online. So he turned up for the online meeting at 7.00 pm, made a brief statement and then disappeared. He didn't answer any questions. He wasn't seen again. He went missing, vanished, vamoosed. Perhaps he was abducted? Should I be calling the emergency services? After all, he surely wouldn't have promised to answer questions and then just ducked out, would he?

2023-12-01 09:40:04

Call Nick Bowles : DIY SOS could sort this in a week or two. Certainly do a better job than the DFE.

2023-12-01 09:49:05

Parents might ask the DFE to fund their children to attend private schools in the area, that's across Herts and Essex, because SFG really doesn't qualify as a school anymore.

View from Afar
2023-12-01 09:59:57

I think the BBC should hear about this, that might shake Halfon up a bit

Michael Price
2023-12-01 11:01:44

I am certain that 2027 will not see a fully functioning new build school, as I didn’t see any element of urgency being discussed. Sympathy for Helena Mills and despair at all 3 government ministers, they need coaching in public speaking. Too many ‘ er ’ ‘um’ and hesitation. Apparently Baroness Barran would welcome BMAT arranging a face to face meeting with parents at a later date, but she will surely be unable to attend as happened yesterday. Mr Halpon disappeared entirely from proceedings.

2023-12-01 14:17:02

I know this is a very difficult subject, and I feel so sorry for the kids who’s education is being affected by this shambles. And I feel sorry for the parents and staff at the school too as they have been put in a terrible situation that isn’t their doing. I dont like to make our hopeless MP the centre of this as the kids, parents and staff are far more important than him. But he is front snd centre of this shambles. And it sounds like he didn’t want to even do the right thing and face up to the poor parents who rightfully demand answers. And the to make it sound like its good news that a new school will be built in 4 years time is no help to anyone who has kids at the school now. Im sorry - but this disaster, and the chaos that’s followed is a SCANDAL. And Robert Halfon should do the decent thing and RESIGN.

2023-12-01 14:24:48

Where are all the Tory councillors that prowl the posts? None of them are to be seen because they know just how much of a sh*t show this is so they are all avoiding you parents. Don't worry, they won't be in office in 2027, heck they won't be in office in 2025 so it's not their concern as far as they are concerned. They'll just blame it on whoever takes over and use it to try and get back into politics.

2023-12-01 18:31:01

Incompetence, corruption, possibly both. If they think it’s ok to build a £27million school badly and be signed off to flatten it and start again with a shrug shows the level of corruption from the builders right to the top.

2023-12-01 20:16:24

So will it be the school or the hospital that wins the race to open first Total shambles

Harlow Knight
2023-12-01 20:33:01

Robert halfons "care" for children's education is an absolute sham. He very much likes being on the camera to talk about it but the substance is non existent. Clown. This whole episode is disgusting from top to bottom.

Mr McGuffin
2023-12-02 00:13:48

Robert Haflon should do the polite thing and resign over this load of rubbish. This would be a solid symbol of Tory incompetence, if not for the downright criminal gutting of the town centre with nothing built there to fill the urban gaps.

James Gamble
2023-12-03 13:09:06

Firstly they close Passmores and reopen it at Brays Grove, then pull the two building down and rebuild the old Brays Grove with the ordacity of calling it Passmores ignoring the geography. Then they rebuild on the old Passmores site and make a great announcement. Then we find they skimped on the materials and cannot allow students in. Now we hear they intend to pull the new building down and rebuild it. You couldn't credit it. We don't need an inquiry we all recognise incompetence.

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