Schools minister David Laws announces government to commit £2bn for flagship school building programme

Priority schools

The government has committed a further £2bn to its flagship school building programme, although the funding will not be made available until 2015.

Schools minister David Laws said last week the government would commit £2bn in capital funding over the next spending review period, from 2015-2021, to extend the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP).

Laws said the next phase of the PSBP would draw on data collected through the Department for Education’s (DfE) school condition survey, which is being undertaken by consultants Davis Langdon, EC Harris and Capita, but has been hit by delays and cost overruns.

Laws said the survey, initially meant to be completed last October, would now be completed by “this summer”. He said the new funding would be focused both on rebuilding whole school estates, as well as individual buildings within estates.

The £2bn PSBP programme was launched to replace the £55bn Building Schools for the Future programme in July 2011.

Around £1.75bn of the original programme was set to be funded through the government’s new private finance model, called PF2, but this was slashed to just £700m after struggles to source private sector finance, with the remainder made up through capital funding.

The extra £2bn announced last week is entirely capital funding, with no private finance element.

DfE said details of how schools would be selected for the next phase of the PSBP would be published “shortly”. It said that of the 261 schools in the current programme, 28 were now either under construction or open, with design work under way at 234.

The first school to be completed under the PSBP, Whitmore Park Primary School in Coventry, opened last week. The school was built by Wates as part of a £38m batch of schools in the East Midlands.

The DfE says all of the school projects in the current programme will be completed by the end of 2017.

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