23/Aug/2014 - Last News Update: 19:04

School buildings plans announced

Category: England

Published: 24th May 2012 14:27:04

The government has announced 261 schools in England will receive money from a new school building fund.

A total of 587 applied for the cash from the Priority School Building Programme, aimed at rebuilding the most dilapidated schools.

The scheme replaces Labour's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, which was controversially cancelled by the Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Hundreds of schools with building plans were disappointed by that move.

The BSF programme had been expected to cost £55bn and was set up under Labour, which pledged to rebuild every secondary school in England.

The Priority School Building Programme has a £2 bn budget for work to be done over five years.

Mr Gove had described the BSF programme as wasteful and over-bureaucratic.

After scrapping it, he set up a review of all school building plans which produced a report in April 2011. One key recommendation was a new survey of the condition of all schools in England.

Thursday's announcement had been delayed from the winter.

Applications for the Priority School Building Programme had to be submitted by mid-October 2011 - and schools had expected to hear if they had been successful in December 2011.

More than half of those which applied for these new rebuilding funds are learning that they have been unsuccessful, but the government says some will get work done through other, maintenance funds.

In a written statement to the House of Commons, Mr Gove said 42 schools were being prioritised because they were in greatest need. These were those in the worst condition or special schools, he said.

"In tackling the challenges we face on school building, I have been determined to use the capital funding at my disposal to best effect, seeking value for money and efficiency from every pound spent," his statement said.

"I recognise that many of the schools that applied and have been unsuccessful will also have significant condition needs."

The government has released a list of the schools approved for building work.

The areas getting the highest numbers of applications approved included Nottinghamshire with 15 projects and Kent with 14.

Birmingham had made 16 applications; six were approved. Sandwell had made 18 applications; three were approved.

Some areas have had just one project approved, while in Bolton, none of its five applications were successful.

The Department for Education says work on the 42 schools being prioritised for being in the greatest need will be paid for out of its capital spending budget, including savings from ongoing BSF projects.

The other projects are to be funded through Private Finance Initiatives under the £2bn Priority School Building Programme.

Sandwell was one of six councils which took Mr Gove to court over his decision to scrap the BSF programme.

In February last year the High Court ruled that the way the decision had been taken was unlawful because Mr Gove had not consulted the local authorities who had their projects cancelled.

Work is due to start on the chosen projects in the next five years, but there is no guarantee that all schemes will be completed in that time.

Earlier this month, the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England, said tens of thousands of children were being taught in crumbling buildings.

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BBC News, 2012. School buildings plans announced [Online] (Updated 24th May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1430677/School-buildings-plans-announced [Accessed 23rd Aug 2014]

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