Three teams have made the shortlist for the £1bn Birmingham Building Schools for the Future (BSF) competition, the biggest project yet tendered under the scheme.

They are:

  • Catalyst Education, led by Lend Lease’s PFI arm Catalyst and its contractor, Bovis Lend Lease
  • E-pact, led by Galliford Try
  • Land Securities – Trillium

Unusually, Birmingham council has also named a reserve bidder, Transform Schools, led by Balfour Beatty. It is thought to be the first time this has occurred on a BSF project.

A spokesperson for the council said: “If any bidders drop out, the council will have the option to include Transform Schools as one of the final three bidders. If it decides to bid, Transform Schools will be afforded the same time period to develop its plans as the other bidders.”

This means, in practice, that the two teams left in the running would have to put the brakes on their bids, while Transform Schools picked up speed.

Birmingham council has unusually named a reserve bidder, Transform Schools

A preferred bidder will be appointed next spring. The development will span 10 years and will transform 80 secondary schools. The first phase is scheduled to start on site in 2009, with the second phase in 2010.

Birmingham will also procure seven city academies through a local education partnership, the vehicle set up with the preferred bidder to deliver BSF schools. This has concerned contractors on a special academy framework bidding for £1.6bn of work, which fear they will be made redundant.

n Tony Ridley has been appointed as a non-executive chairman of Building Schools for the Future Investments (BSFI). This is the central investment business of BSF, and is a joint venture between the Department for Children, Schools and Families (formerly the DfES) and Partnerships UK.