EC Harris has bolstered its chances of joining the City Academies framework by signing up five builders and six signature architects to work with it.

The cost consultant, which is competing with 13 contractors for the six available places on the framework, has put the team together to actually build the schools.

EC Harris will take on the risk of prime contractor within its own mini-framework, and will set up bulk-buying agreements to reduce the costs of materials.

It plans to target projects worth up to £30m on a design-and-build basis.

So far it has signed up Wates, Bowmer & Kirkland, ROK, Gleeson Building and Bluestone, the regional contracting arm of Morgan Sindall.

The architects include Faber Maunsell, SMC Alsop, Wilkinson & Eyre, Sheppard Robson, Scott Brownrigg and Broadway Malyan.

Paul Foster, the head of education at EC Harris, said: “We’re not seeking to be a builder, it’s a very different offering. Obviously there’s a perception issue but we can quickly get over that.”