The government has snubbed the body in charge of its £45bn secondary school building programme by declining to give it responsibility for a new £7bn package for primary schools.

It has emerged that the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) has decided to administer the Primary Capital programme directly rather than use Partnerships for Schools (PfS), the established delivery body for education projects.

PfS has been criticised by contractors for its slow progress on Building Schools for the Future.

At a conference in London last week, Mike Coleman, regional operations director for PfS, said: “Funding for the Primary Capital programme isn't something we are administering formally.”

The DCSF said: “The Primary Capital programme will be done through local authority-managed projects, with DCSF having the overview. Primary schools programmes tend to be smaller and less complex than secondary ones, meaning local authorities have more capacity and expertise.”