Boost for construction as 1,500 school rebuilding schemes given the go-ahead as part of Primary Capital programme

Over a thousand English primary schools will be rebuilt following the government's approval of building plans worth £3.55bn.

Ed Balls, secretary of state for children, schools and families, confirmed that more than 1,500 rebuilding and refurbishment projects will begin now that 133 UK local authorities have been given the go-ahead.

A further 15 local authorities will receive advice on how to bring their plans up to speed within three months, to allow funding to be released.

Ed Balls
Balls: "this huge capital investment will help to support jobs in the construction industry"

The government will release £1.75bn of funding to local authorities for the Primary Capital programme, with local authorities investing a further £1.8bn.

The Primary Capital programme is investing £7bn to rebuild or refurbish half of all primary schools and primary-age special schools by 2022/23.

Balls said that the projects will be helpful to the construction industry “at this challenging time for our economy”.

He said: “This huge capital investment will not only improve the education of our children, but help to support jobs in the construction industry and local businesses who will be crucial to fitting out the new and refurbished schools.

“This is a once-in-a-generation chance to transform primary education in every part of the country - to sweep away buildings now reaching the end of their shelf life and drive up the quality of our schools. Schools are now being revolutionised by the biggest, sustained capital investment for 50 years.”

Ian Fordham, deputy chief executive of the British Council for School Environments, said the announcement is a “cause for celebration” but warned that care should be taken in how the money is spent.

“The key now is to ensure this money is well spent in a commonsense way,” he said. “It must complement other, broader educational agendas such as the Children's Plan, and the general health and wellbeing of young people, to ensure a long-term legacy for our children and our communities.”