First five batches of Priority Schools to come to market to include both PFI and capital grant schools

The first five batches of priority schools to come to market will comprise a mix of both PFI schools and capital grant funded schools, Building has learnt.

The move, confirmed by the Department for Education, will see five batches of schools come to the market, with three batches procured through the existing contractor’s framework - and directly funded through the £400m of capital grant announced last month - and two batches that will utilise the Private Finance Initiative.

Last month education secretary Michael Gove announced that the first 42 schemes under the long-awaited Priority Schools Building Programme would be directly funded with £400m of capital grant, with the remaining 219 schools funded by a £2bn PFI programme, the procurement route initially intended for the entire programme.

The first 42 schools are to be procured through the existing contractor’s framework, which was set up by Partnerships for Schools in 2009 and is now managed by its successor body, the Education Funding Agency.

However, a DfE spokesman said it was always the intention to run the procurement of the 42 directly funded schools, which Gove said last month had been fast-tracked as they were the most in need of rebuild or repair, alongside the PFI schools, but said that the nature of direct capital grant meant that the three directly-funded batches would likely proceed more quickly.

“We are running the PFI and directly-funded programmes concurrently,” he said.

However, he said the exact number of schools within each of the five batches had yet to be finalised.

The spokesman added that it could also yet be the case that some of the 42 schools identified in the initial announcement last month could utilise PFI, rather than direct funding, if after more detailed examination of the work required PFI was deemed to be a better route forward.

“There will be more details forthcoming as the plans are finalised,” he said.