Government reveals full extent of delays to the Building Schools for the Future programme

The government has confirmed its flagship £45bn school-building programme is facing serious delays.

Schools minister Jim Knight admitted in a parliamentary answer that 12 projects had been delayed in the first wave of BSF, seven delayed in wave two, and five in wave three.

The local authorities with the longest delays in wave 1 were Newham, originally anticipated for completion in January 2009 but now set to finish in March 2011; and Greenwich, originally set to complete in April 2009 but now expected to open in September 2011.

In wave 3, the Luton BSF programme has been delayed for 26 months and will now not open until September 2012. The government said “issues around identifying new sites for new schools” were behind the delay.

It has long been suspected that the BSF programme has been beset by delays, but this is the first time the government has acknowledged the extent of it.

Knight said: “As you would expect of a programme of this scale, there have been challenges, and lessons have been learned from the early projects.”

Shadow schools secretary Michael Gove, who posed the question to the government, queried whether or not Schools Secretary Ed Balls was in control of the BSF programme. He said: "As the building gets more and more behind schedule, the costs are rising all the time. Ed Balls’s department simply doesn’t seem capable of handling large-scale projects like this. It is teachers, parents and children that are missing out as a result."