School projects worth £625m to be accelerated by at least six months to tackle delays to BSF programme

A series of schools projects worth £625m are to be accelerated by at least six months, under a government deal announced today.

Partnerships for Schools, the delivery body for the government’s £45bn Building Schools for the Future programme, said that five secondary schools in each of eight local authorities would be fast tracked.

Plans for the schemes, which would originally have come on stream from early next year onwards, will now start being worked up by the authorities.

The move, which affects projects in Enfield, Hounslow, North Tyneside, Rotherham, Southampton, Staffordshire, Walsall and Worcestershire, is one of a series of measures being implemented to speed up the behind–schedule school renewal programme.

It comes amid a consultation on replacing the current system of “waves” of projects with one based on local authorities being launched into the scheme as soon as they are judged to be ready.

Tim Byles, Partnerships for Schools

Tim Byles, chief executive of Partnerships for Schools, said: “This will help with increasing the pipeline of projects in what is a big programme overall. This allows us to prioritise our investment.”

Byles added that contractors should not be concerned that moves to abandon the “wave” system could result in work drying up. He said: “The issue here is not about the continuity of funding – we have clear commitment from government for the next spending review period. This will help industry by making work more predictable.”

He also said that he seen no evidence that the current market conditions would impact on delivery of the programme, but acknowledged that Partnerships for Schools would “closely monitor” rising construction costs.

He said: “We are always considered about any increases in cost, and it is an issue we need to keep in the balance.”