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U-turn on 33 school build projects

More than 30 school building projects facing the prospect of cancellation have been given the green light.

Education secretary Michael Gove gave the go ahead to 33 “sample” schemes in 14 local authority regions and indicated 119 academies would also be funded.

The decision came after the government scrapped the £55bn Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme last month.

The government has begun working with major companies from the construction industry to help reduce building costs.

Gove said: “We will work with councils, sponsors and the construction industry to ensure we bear down on costs and bureaucracy so every new school is built in as cost effective and efficient a way as possible, and I am delighted that they have already responded so positively to this challenge.”

Carillion chief executive John McDonough said: “The private sector welcomes the opportunity to apply its experience and skills to demonstrate how it can reduce costs and improve value for money in the delivery of public sector building projects in the future, and we look forward to sharing our knowledge and experience with the Capital Review Team.”

The list of 33 “sample” schools − pilot projects in local authorities which have yet to start wider building programmes − are BSF projects which had not yet reached financial close but were at an advanced stage of planning, according to the Department for Education.

Gove added that 44 sponsored academies would receive capital funding immediately while allocations for the remaining 75 would be decided in the Spending Review.

The Government said it was working with construction companies and sponsors to reduce costs for school building programmes.

Gove said: “I know how hard councils and schools have worked on these projects and I have been anxious to ensure we can do everything we can, in difficult economic times, to support the crucial work of raising educational standards.

Partnerships for Schools chief executive Tim Byles said: “I am very pleased that today’s announcement means the continuation of all the Building Schools for the Future sample schemes.

“Schools, local authorities and the private sector have worked hard to progress these projects and this will be welcome news for communities across the country.”

Under the original BSF scheme, set up by Labour in 2004, all 3,500 secondary schools in England were to be rebuilt or refurbished by 2023.

While all projects past the financial close stage were allowed to continue, schools earlier in the process had their schemes axed.

Last month the Government announced the creation of a capital review led by DSG International group operations director Sebastian James to look at all areas of the Department’s capital spending.

Today James issued a call for evidence to inform his review, from all interested parties including the construction industry.

James said: “The views that we can harvest from this call for evidence will be extremely helpful in shaping the thinking for the future. I hope that we will see a strong response from a wide range of people.”

The 33 “sample” school building projects which will go ahead are:

  • Dagenham Park, Barking and Dagenham
  • Sydney Russell, Barking and Dagenham
  • Highfield Humanities College, Blackpool
  • Mountford Centre, Blackpool
  • St Mary’s Catholic College, Blackpool
  • UCL Academy, Camden
  • South Camden Community, Camden
  • Swiss Cottage Special School, Camden
  • Derby Moor, Derby
  • Noel-Baker, Derby
  • St Martins, Derby
  • Cardinal Wiseman Roman Catholic School, Ealing
  • Dormers Wells High School, Ealing
  • The Grange Comprehensive High School, Halton
  • Wade Deacon High School, Halton
  • Dyke House Sports and Technology College, Hartlepool
  • St Hilds CE VA School, Hartlepool
  • Lonsdale School, Hertfordshire
  • Marriotts, Hertfordshire
  • The Nobel School, Hertfordshire
  • Dunraven Secondary School, Lambeth
  • Lilian Baylis, Lambeth
  • Norwood, Lambeth
  • New RC School, Oldham
  • North Chadderton, Oldham
  • Ashdown Technology College, Poole
  • Chilton Trinity, Somerset
  • Elmwood, Somerset
  • Robert Blake, Somerset
  • De La Salle School, St Helens
  • Rainford High Technology College, St Helens
  • Burntwood, Wandsworth
  • Southfields, Wandsworth

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