Byles dismisses MPs criticism of Schools for the Future Programme as risky

The head of the Building Schools for the Future programme defended the £45bn investment against claims it was too risky and misguided.

A report released today by the House of Commons Education Committee said there were risks associated with choosing the PFI procurement route, which will fund around half the rebuild. The report pointed to three PFI schools having to close as proof of problems with PFI.

Speaking on the Today programme this morning Tim Byles, Partnerships for Schools chief executive Tim Byles said there was a “rigorous approach” to funding local schools and denied any issues with PFI as a procurement method. “We want to make sure that every penny of public money is put to good use.”

Byles added the investment in buildings need to “run alongside” investment in ICT and other services. “It’s not just about bricks and mortar.”

The parliamentary report, called Sustainable Schools: Are we building the schools for the future?, (click here for the report) called for more pre-planning time for the schools to come up with clear and sustainable projects. “There is a strong argument that the initial ‘visioning’ phase should be lengthened.”

The committee also called for post-occupancy reviews of all BSF schools to assess what has gone well and what has caused difficulties.

And it stressed that more money should be promised up front to ensure that the buildings are as sustainable as possible:

“While in Government accounting terms capital and revenue are always accounted for separately, it makes sense to shoulder higher capital costs if over the whole life of a building it has the same or lower costs as a building which is not constructed with the principle of carbon reduction in mind.”