A SCHOOL plans to knock down a dilapidated old building which was earmarked for demolition in the 1980s and build a modern new teaching block.

St James CE High School, in Farnworth, has applied to replace the three-storey building will be with a “like-for-like” two-storey building which will also provide 12 classrooms across roughly the same floor space.

Tania Lewyckyj, headteacher at the Lucas Road school, says she is “delighted” to have secured the funds that will enable the new block to be built.

She said: “I’m very happy we can give our teachers and pupils good premises, that have good quality health and safety and good ventilation, because that building is not great for that either.”

And she adds that the new building is as much-needed as it has been long-awaited.

She said: “They tried to knock down the school in the 1980s based on the condition of that building – which we are still in in 2018.

“The whole of the area used to be a mining area, so the foundations are not as secure as they should have been."

She continued: “If I put you into one of the rooms in the current building, it’s like standing on a Himalayan causeway. The desks are at an angle, the teachers are standing at an 85-degree angle, it’s hysterical, people have come in and couldn’t believe it.”

The cash for the new building has come via the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s Condition Improvement Fund.

And while Ms Lewyckyj is happy that progress is now being made, she says securing the funds to improve the school’s facilities has been a frustrating process.

She said: “It’s a building we have known needed dealing with for a long time but as a voluntary maintained school, we couldn’t get the funds from anywhere to replace it.

“We were really, really keen to get it replaced and the only way I could see us getting the money for is was by moving to academy status.

“As soon as we did that we put in a bid and got the money, it’s direct from the Department for Education, and nothing to do with the council or the diocese.”

The headteacher added that, despite the pressure on school places, St James’ was unable to get money from Bolton Council for a larger building.

And it was only possible to obtain cash via the Condition Improvement Funds, which provides for like-for-like replacements in terms of size and the number of classrooms.

“We have had no expansion money, we’ve never been offered expansion money, when we are on the most popular schools in the borough,” she said.

However Ms Lewyckyjsays once the new school block has been completed she intends to put in further bids for CIF funds “to further improve the premises”.

Work to build the new building is scheduled for August and it is hoped the work will be completed by January, allowing classes to be held in the new classrooms from February.

Once the new building is completed, the old one will have to be demolished, due to the conditions of the grant. The demolition work will be carried out in school holiday time to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.