The schools saved £567,950 to replace the temporary cabins on College Field with a new classroom, but as the sum is insufficient to meet the full cost of the project the scheme has been put on hold.
The funds were transferred to the Infrastructure Department – which would have been responsible for the building project – on 6 October 2016.
Education Minister Rod Bryans has now signed a Ministerial Decision seeking approval from Treasury Minister Alan Maclean for the funds to be temporarily transferred back to the schools.
If approved, there would be a budget transfer of up to £450,000 in 2019 and £117,000 in 2020 from the Infrastructure Department. The schools plan to replenish the pot by 2023. They say the money would be used to make ‘essential improvements’ including enhancing their provision for special educational needs as well as developing staff teaching skills – something which was recommended in a recent report by the Independent Schools Inspectorate.
The Ministerial Decision said: ‘In 2017 the board of governors of Victoria College and Victoria College Preparatory prepared a comprehensive five-year strategic plan, 2018–2022, addressing the future challenges facing both schools.
‘To part-fund the plan, the governors have requested the temporary use of the capital funds up to £567,000 in 2019 (£450,000) and 2020 (£117,000) on the proviso that these funds will be repaid in full in 2022 (£332,000) and 2023 (£235,000).’
Victoria College chairman of governors Brian Watt said: ‘We have been working on the five-year Strategic Plan for some time and this funding means we can now start to invest in the schools as planned to ensure our students have the highest quality of support in all areas and an excellent education that fully prepares them for the future.’
He added: ‘This funding is not new money – it was already put aside by the schools – but we do not have enough to complete the capital project so we will use it to advance some essential improvements more quickly than otherwise would be possible. We plan to return the funds to the capital budget by the end of 2023.’
Mr Watt said that some of the funds would also be put towards ‘significant improvement’ in information technology at both schools and offering additional bursaries at Victoria College.