Significant savings made on Sebastian James test case in Doncaster

The government has saved £4m on a significantly shortened procurement process for a school in Doncaster.

Campsmount Technology College was procured in just 22 weeks, compared to a typical 48 week period.

The £10.5m school project – which was won by Wates – is being used as a test case for policy changes under the Sebastian James review into school building.

The review team is discussing introducing new fast-track procurement methods and cutting minimum space standards by 15%.

The school savings were announced during a speech by the chief executive of Partnership for Schools Tim Byles at an event in London.

Byles also launched a new online search tool to help groups interested in setting up free schools find suitable sites in their area.

The initiative, which works on similar technology to the Home Office’s crime hotspots tool, allows users to view on a map sites that could be used for a free school around a particular postcode.

Byles also revealed the expanded role PfS was taking in advising groups on the acquisition of buildings to be used as free schools, including office blocks, ex-schools and a garden centre.

Speaking at the annual BSEC conference in London, Byles explained the future direction of government policy as he saw it.

“There’s a fundamental difference of belief on the relationship between the built environment and education standards.

“The emphasis is moving towards condition and basic need, and pupil numbers. The thinking is that school buildings don’t need to be beautiful, they need to be fit for purpose.”