Former Minister for Education, Sport and Culture (DESC) has emphasised that sustainability and accessibility is important for any future schools on the island.

Asked whether the department would publish a review of school buildings during a recent Tynwald sitting, Julie Edge confirmed that a review would be available on the DESC Government website by the end of July.

Discussing the review, Ms Edge said: ‘As I said back in November, a building utilisation review is currently underway across the school estate.

‘The purpose of this review is to understand capacity and inform future decision making in terms of catchment area mapping, and future strategic policy on sustainable school buildings.

‘This has to be in line with our inclusive education system, whereby we ensure that all pupils have access to education, regardless of their additional educational needs.’

Ms Edge explained that striving for sustainability in schools relates to ‘improving emissions with any potential building works’, but that all of these buildings should still have equal access for students.

It was recently confirmed that Treasury will pledge £3.2 million to the Project Development Fund from this year’s budget, which will support plans to replace Castle Rushen High School.

In a Treasury response to DESC following the acceptance of the plans, it read: ‘The director of strategic asset management and valuation advises that due to the past experience of how Government procurement has worked, it could be considered how the UK has been procuring school builds recently to see if there is a different way to secure any contract.’

‘Procurement’ relates to the strategic method of designing schools and what contractors may be hired to complete any works.

When asked whether her department had taken on this advice in a follow up question by Rushen MHK Juan Watterson, Ms Edge replied: ‘The department is aware of the ways in which schools have been procured in the UK in recent years.

‘We engage with both the Treasury and the Department of Infrastructure through the project management unit to better understand the best procurement routes for all school builds.

‘We’ve now moved into the design stage, and we’ll be looking at the best way to ensure the most effective value for money and sustainable model for the Castle Rushen High School site.’

Talking to Isle of Man Today following the Tynwald sitting, Mr Watterson said: ‘I’m keen to ensure that no time is being wasted and that all parties are not sitting on their hands, but are full speed ahead in accordance with their public statements.’