The former head of the government’s rail services has been given responsibility for its huge programme of schoolbuilding.

Richard Bowker, former chief executive of the Strategic Rail Authority, will be charged with delivering the £5.1bn Building Schools for the Future programme. Bowker replaces David Goldstone, who left to join Partnerships UK, a public–private partnership for delivering public sector schemes.

Partnerships for Schools aims to provide upgraded facilities for every secondary school pupil within the next 10 to 15 years.

Bowker said this was one of the country’s most important programmes of investment. He said: “It will deliver the quality of schools that our children deserve and that can make such a difference to their educational achievement. PfS has a fantastic team and I look forward to leading them as we shape and deliver the environments in which children can learn and grow.”

This will deliver the quality of schools our children deserve

Richard Bowker, Partnerships for Schools

PfS chair Michael Grabiner, said Bowker was an “exceptional, high-calibre” candidate. He said: “He has a real track record in delivering key investment programmes. I am looking forward to working with him.”

Bowker was chair and chief executive of the Strategic Rail Authority from December 2001 to September 2004, where he was involved in the West Coast Main Line route modernisation.