Education Secretary Michael Gove has apologised to 10 schools affected by mistakes in a Government document which made made them believe they had won a reprieve from the scrapping of the £55bn school building programme.
The errors on a Department for Education (DfE) list meant the schools thought they would be able to go ahead with their building projects, but they later had their hopes dashed when they found out this was not the case.
In total, there were 25 errors in the document, which broke down which projects would be scrapped, reviewed and protected following the axing of the previous Labour government’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.
Nine schools in Sandwell, West Midlands, and one in Doncaster, South Yorkshire were the ones affected by the errors and have now been told their projects have been axed.
The apology was also extended to a further 11 schools, whose projects are now up for “discussion”.
Mr Gove told Commons Speaker John Bercow: “I’m grateful to you and to the whole House for granting me the opportunity to make this statement, and once again to unreservedly apologise.”
Mr Gove had previously announced the BSF programme was to be abandoned, saying it had been beset by “massive overspends, tragic delays, botched construction projects and needless bureaucracy”.
Under the original scheme, set up by Labour in 2004, all 3,500 secondary schools in England were to be rebuilt or refurbished by 2023.
Following Mr Gove’s announcement, the DfE published a list of 1,500 schools, detailing how their building plans would be affected.
It included 715 schools which were told their building projects had been cancelled.
But on Wednesday, concerns were raised by former schools minister Vernon Coaker that the list contained a number of errors.
He demanded that Mr Gove come to the Commons to explain to MPs “what on earth has been going on”.
The DfE has since admitted the errors and published a corrected list.