THE Government has attempted to appease growing concerns among headteachers over funding by providing a £68m cash injection for North-East schools.
The cash includes £34m for school repairs and upgrades, meaning the green light for 41 building projects.
Money is also being allocated to create more than 7,000 new school places that local councils say are required across the region by 2020 to meet growing demand.
Dean Judson, headteacher at Hurworth School, near Darlington, which will receive £513,082 to replace flat roofs which have begun to leak, said it was “massively important” since work needed to begin as soon possible.
The school was built in the 1950s and the flat roofs were beginning to let in water, threatening to affect electrical equipment.
But Mr Judson said that set against the overall financial position the school found itself in it was still a case of “money in, money out”.
Last month he co-ordinated a letter sent to parents from the heads of 31 primary and eight secondary schools in Darlington, urging them to lobby the Government before a £7m black hole appears in their collective budgets by 2020.
Mr Judson said: “That critical situation would have been compounded if we hadn’t been successful with our bid for funding to deal with the roofs.
“That’s because the money would have been found from elsewhere, adversely affecting resources for pupils and staff.
“As far as schools are concerned costs are rising and expenditure is rising and every day our budgets are being squeezed.”
A gulf has opened up between headteachers, who have repeatedly warned of chronic underfunding in the years ahead, and the Government which claims school funding is at record levels, having committed to invest more than £24bn in the school estate between 2015 and 2021.
MPs have also joined the debate with the likes of Darlington MP Jenny Chapman, Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson and Tom Blenkinsop, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, all raising concerns.
Recently spending watchdog the National Audit Office stated billions was being poured into building new free schools in England, while existing state schools were crumbling due to lack of repairs.
It said £1,500 per pupil needed to be spent in the North-East and North Yorkshire to bring school buildings up to a satisfactory standard.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said in total £100m was being invested in the North-East over the next three years to create new school places.
Education Secretary Justine Greening said: “This investment of £68m in the North East, together with our proposals to create more good school places, will help ensure every young person in the region has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”