The government programme to rebuild the most dilapidated schools is being delayed because the private finance to fund it hasn’t been found. Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg has slated it for ‘chaos, incompetence and repeated delays’
Last May Michael Gove announced that rebuilding or refurbishment would ‘begin immediately’ on the 261 most dilapidated schools, but the Department of Education has yet to find the necessary private finance to fund 219 of the schools in the five-year programme. The BBC reports that this has resulted in delays of at least a year to the start of work on any school, and some schools in the first wave have been told that work is unlikely to be completed until at 2016 – a delay of two years.
A Local Government Association survey of the schools in the Priority School Building Programme found that only 19 had start dates and 66 hadn’t heard anything about their rebuild. Its Chairman, Councillor David Simmonds, blamed government red tape for the ‘unacceptable’ situation and warned that it ‘threatens to severely impact on our children’s education’.
ASCL is concerned about the delays and deputy general secretary Malcolm Strobe called on the government to address the issue urgently. “The priority school building programme is only addressing the tip of the iceberg that is out of the water in terms of the condition of school buildings. This is a priority programme and it should be a priority.”
The government has denied that work will be delayed, but said it was essential to take the time to find the right finance arrangement for each school. It is now looking at a number of solutions, including capital bond markets and the European Investment Bank, to fund the flagship programme.
Do you work in one of the schools waiting to be rebuilt? What effect is the delay having on pupils and teachers?