The multi-million-pound annual fund can be used by academies and Sixth Form Colleges to expand classrooms, upgrade facilities such as sports halls or science labs, and address issues with the general wear and tear of school buildings. Successful schools and colleges must be rated “Good” or “Outstanding”; Saint Francis Xavier College has benefited from this fund and bid successfully in the past to upgrade and reconfigure classroom space, install additional security measures and raise maintenance standards.
The Secretary of State was very impressed by the College facilities and could see how the grant income had been put to very good use for the benefit of the students. He met with a group of students in their final year of advanced studies and was very interested to hear their views on the plethora of educational changes which have been put in place by successive governments. He was also challenged by questions from the student group who were interested in the rationale behind some of the educational reforms and, of course, what his feelings were about some of the turbulence in Parliament in recent months.