Existing local frameworks and one-off procurements will be used for £500m worth of projects to address school places
Projects worth £500m to address the urgent need for extra school places will be delivered through a mix of existing frameworks and traditional procurement, Building understands.
The government published a list last Thursday of 100 authorities in line to receive a slice of the £500m of funding, first announced in June. The biggest winners were London councils Redbridge (£28.7m), Waltham Forest (£25m), Brent (£24.8m) and Barking and Dagenham (£23.9m).
It is understood that projects using the funding will be procured through existing local frameworks and one-off procurements, in a move that will boost the prospect of SMEs winning work from the initiative.
However, industry experts have warned that funds will fall short of the money needed to address the shortage of school places.
Steve Beechey, head of education at Wates, said: “The £500m of schools funding allocated is a drop in the ocean compared with the amount that is required to meet the shortfall in school places across the country, which is only going to increase over the next few years.”
However, Beechey added that a 12-week consultation on simplifying school premises regulations, which was launched by education secretary Michael Gove alongside the funding allocations, would go some way towards boosting school delivery.
He said: “It is a step in the right direction and could make it far easier for local authorities to convert existing buildings into schools. But local authorities will need to be creative if they are to avoid a potentially critical shortage of places for pupils.”
Meanwhile, officials have confirmed that standardised school designs will not be ready for the first wave of schools to be built under the £2bn Priority School Building Programme, the first contracts under which are set to be awarded in April.