New School building plans to be announced

The government has been accused of “wasting precious time” with school building plans, by the shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg. The Department for Education has pushed converting schools into academies and creating new Free Schools. Mr Gove then set up a review of all school building plans, which reported in April 2011.

One key recommendation was a new survey of the condition of all schools in England. In July 2011, Michael Gove announced the Priority School Building Programme, £2bn of private finance to rebuild the most dilapidated schools. Darren Talbot, Head of Schools at Davis Langdon, said he would expect the department to announce only the first of five waves of building this year – that would be 30-35 secondary schools.

Priority School Building is not the only capital available for schools. Mr Simmonds said schools and parents were telling local authorities that the condition of some schools was so poor it was getting in the way of providing a good education. Whenever new schools are built, they will be far cheaper than under Labour’s Building Schools for the Future Programme.

Whilst a BSF school would cost about £25m, the new secondary schools will be far cheaper. Ministers are expected to announce soon which schools in England will receive money from a school building fund. The Education Secretary Michael Gove cancelled Labour’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme in 2010, disappointing hundreds of schools which had plans for rebuilding.

The funds being announced on Thursday are for the new Priority School Building Programme, aimed at rebuilding the most dilapidated schools. One key recommendation was a new survey of the condition of all schools in England. 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.