CRUMBLING schools in Blackburn and Darwen will receive an £800,000 boost as part of a £39 million package for 600 schools in the North West.

Education secretary, MP David Blunkett, made the announcement, which will make a big dent in the repairs backlog and enable major improvements to begin.

Speaking at the NASUWT annual conference in Scarborough, Mr Blunkett said: "Raising standards in schools is at the heart of our education strategy, but crumbling school buildings make the task harder.

"This money is on top of the £13.4 million I announced last September for schools in the region, and the budget announcement in March of money for new toilet and heating facilities.

"This is a clear demonstration of the government's commitment to ensuring that pupils have decent conditions in which to learn, and teachers have decent conditions in which to teach."

President of the Blackburn branch of the NUT, Frank Shuttleworth, welcomed the news.

He said: "The NUT has battled for better conditions for years and years. We presented a petition to Neil Kinnock ten or 12 years ago, when he was shadow education secretary, for improvements in conditions.

"The last government let things rot, and conditions have become even worse. The money is not sufficient to sort it all out, but it will go a fair way."

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