Review panel chaired by Sebastian James will reprioritise hundreds of school projects

The government’s review into its school building programme will be completed “within months”, according to Partnerships for Schools chief executive Tim Byles.

The review, which will be chaired by Sebastian James, the group operations director of DSG international and a university contemporary of David Cameron, is expected to feed into the Comprehensive Spending Review due out in October. The panel will be advised by Sir John Egan.

It will seek to find a way to reprioritise the hundreds of school projects abandoned as a result of the government’s decision to stop the BSF programme. As a result of the decision, announced yesterday:

  • 715 BSF school projects have been cancelled, including 180 new build, 319 refurbished and 63 ICT-only, with 32 that were yet to be confirmed.
  • 123 academy projects that have not reached financial close will be reviewed on a case by case basis
  • 14 sample projects in schemes that have reached close of dialogue stage will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

The saving to the government from projects that have been scrapped amounts to £7.5bn over a five year period.

The review panel will also include Kevin Grace, director of property services at Tesco, Barry Quirk, the chief executive of Lewisham, and John Hood, the former vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford.

It is expected to focus on prioritising schemes in order of building condition rather than educational need. The department for education said it would also look at how to “make current design and procurement cost-effective and efficient”, and would “overhaul how capital is allocated and targeted.”

Tim Byles said Partnerships for Schools had seconded three people to the review team. He said: “It is not a case of everything starting from scratch. But we will want to look at the needs of all schools.”

He added: “The review of schools capital will help ensure that the way in which future spending on school buildings and facilities is delivered matches the new government’s priorities.

“We look forward to working with Sebastian James and the wider review team alongside the Department for Education to ensure that the future shape of schools capital investment ensures that the schools that need it most, get the funding first and that those investments represent excellent value for money to the public purse.”