The government is to introduce PFI and public-private partnership schemes in up to 2100 voluntary aided Church of England schools.
Until now the schools have not been the target of private sector investment because of the small size of the contracts, mostly for refurbishment work - 1900 are primary schools and tend to have a contract value of about £2m.

The Department for Education and Skills, the Church of England and PPP adviser Partnerships UK have placed an advertisement in the European Union's Official Journal inviting consultants to pitch for a contract to advise on the standardisation of contracts and co-ordination of technical support.

The government will then invite bids for the PFI contracts in late spring or early summer. A source said: "The first stage is to test the model for the schemes with the advisers. Then we must find a way of bundling £2m schools in a way that is attractive to the market."

Between five and eight advisers will be invited to tender for the consultancy role, which is expected to be mainly a legal one.

A winner will be named in January.