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Delight at pounds 83m schools project; EDUCATION: Deal signed to provide four new facilities 'fit for 21st century'.

Byline: By Emma Cullwick

COUNCIL chiefs are celebrating after signing a multi-million pound deal to rebuild four secondary schools in Solihull in a bid to bring education into the 21st century.

The pounds 83 million project will see Smith's Wood School, in Smiths Wood, Archbishop Grimshaw RC School, in Chelmsley Wood, Lanchester Special School and Park Hall School, both in Castle Bromwich, being bulldozed and replaced with state-of-the-art facilities.

More than pounds 6 million will also be split between the schools to fund top-of-the-range computers, electronic whiteboards and internet systems.

The deal, which will see three of the schools being built under a private finance initiative, has been hailed as a major milestone in the Government's Building Schools for the Future scheme.

Solihull Council is one of the first authorities in the country to be included in the initiative, with the Government ploughing pounds 45 billion into rebuilding or refurbishing all secondary schools across Britain over the next 15 years.

Council chiefs hope the new schools will not only provide better education facilities, but will also help to fight the bullies.

"We are carefully planning the way the schools are built to make sure the actual design minimises issues such as bullying by creating a better flow through the building and eliminating intimidating blind alleys," said a council spokeswoman.

"We are not building new versions of old schools - we are building the new schools that our children deserve."

The new Archbishop Grimshaw RC School will specialise in the arts and languages, and will include a theatre, games area, and a chapel.

Lanchester Special School will include a new referral unit with specialist equipment, Park Hall will specialise in maths and computing and will have state-of-the-art technology equipment, while Smith's Wood gets a new swimming pool for specialising in sports and English.

Mark Fenton, who is spearheading the project for Solihull Council, said they were delivering on their promise of a "brighter future for children and young people".

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STATE OF THE ART...the planned school at Smith's Wood.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:May 16, 2007
Words:339
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