Consultants join law firm Dickinson Dees in taking roles on first wave of controversial scheme

Three consultants have been appointed to deliver the initial wave of the government’s flagship free schools programme, in a move that will see them drive the construction of the first buildings under the controversial scheme.

Capita Symonds has won a technical advisory role on the first eight free schools, which will see it provide architectural design, project management, structural and civils work, M&E and cost management. DTZ will provide property services to the whole first group - about 16 schools - and law firm Dickinson Dees will provide legal advice.

The appointments were confirmed in the week that the government published its education white paper, in which it said it had 25 free schools in progression and expected “some” of these to open in 2011.

The government has previously stated it hoped to open the first 16 free schools by September 2011, although education experts have questioned whether this is feasible. Sources have also suggested that some will have to open in temporary buildings due to the challenging timescale.

Most free schools will be conversions of existing buildings, including those not currently used for education, although schools will also be able to opt for new build.

The white paper added that the Department for Education would make buildings that it owns or leases available for conversion into free schools.

Partnerships for Schools, the government’s delivery agency for schools, which managed the appointments, is choosing a firm to provide technical advice to further free schools providers, with an appointment expected soon. It is also understood the agency is considering longer-term options for support to groups wanting to set up free schools.

Meanwhile, Wates has beaten Sir Robert McAlpine to be made preferred bidder on the £10.5m contract to rebuild Campsmount technology college in Doncaster, the first scheme to trial fast-track schools procurement methods being worked up by the government.


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