Telford and Wrekin council to retender school projects worth £80m through academies framework

Telford and Wrekin council is to drop main contractor Kier from its £200m school building programme, and retender the remaining projects through the government’s academies framework.

The news comes four months after a canopy collapsed at one of the schools currently being built causing five workers to be hospitalised.

Kier was appointed preferred bidder on Telford and Wrekin’s £200m BSF programme in 2009 after a competition through the original national academies framework, in a deal that led to it being appointed on four school projects.

The council had been expected to continue with Kier under its existing arrangement, but the deadline for it to award projects under the deal is 31 December and it has confirmed it only expects to let one more scheme to Kier before this date. The contractor will continue on the schemes where it is already working. A Kier spokesperson said: “We have been invited to retender.”
The council is expected to retender 10 school projects, understood to be worth around £80m, through the academies framework in January. The schemes include five rebuilds.

A spokesperson said: “We are re-tendering for the last phase of our BSF programme because the initial framework expires on 31 December and we have to re-tender under the rules of the programme as set by Partnerships for Schools.”

The Telford and Wrekin BSF programme hit headlines in August when a canopy over the entrance to the Abraham Darby Academy in Telford, being built by Kier Moss, collapsed, injuring the five workers.

The decision to use the academies framework to retender the work is the latest bonus to the contractors on the framework, which includes 15 firms across North and South regions.

It is understood that local authorities are increasingly opting to use the deal for smaller projects that they fund themselves, on top of the larger capital projects managed centrally by government delivery body Partnerships for Schools.

Last week, Building reported that Bam Construct is about to be appointed on the first University Technical College to come through the framework, in Hackney, London. The contractor has now won five schemes under the deal since the government issued a revised programme last summer. Keith Rayner, education director at Bam, said: “The framework has been successful in delivering value for money, and we’re seeing the pace pick up.”

  • Partnerships for Schools has appointed Mike Coleman, formerly a regional operations director, to oversee the delivery of the government’s £2bn Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP) as part of a new role as divisional director for programme delivery. Russell Andrews has been appointed divisional director for planning and funding, and David Burns becomes divisional director for programme advice and support. Coleman will oversee work on academies and free schools, and the current director of the academies team, Colin Howell, leaving in January for personal reasons. It has also emerged that the education department’s announcement of the first schools to be in the PSBP has been put back from December to January.