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£1 billion of schools funding announced

The priority school building programme will fund the rebuilding of 73 schools over the next year

The Education Funding Agency (EFA) has today (10 May) announced that 46 schools will be rebuilt using private finance as part of the priority school building programme.

Private funding will supply £700 million of funding, which will be used to rebuild these schools through the new programme, known as PF2. An additional £300 million of capital funding has been earmarked for a further 27 schools.

The 46 schools will be built in 5 batches. The first batch, covering Hertfordshire, Luton and Reading will be launched at the end of May. Bids for constructing the remaining batches of schools in the North-east, North-west, Yorkshire, and the Midlands will be published through OJEU.

The government say this approach will ‘raise the standards of schools’. Amir Ramezani, director at Avanti believes otherwise. He said: ‘At the moment there is very little incentive – poor fees, lack of opportunity, low design quality -  for good architects to get involved with the priority school building programme.

‘My fear with this new wave of private financed schools is a fall back to the bad old days of Group Schools PFI. We need strong leadership from EFA to champion how design can transform these low cost schools’.

Peter Lauener, chief executive of the EFA, said: ‘I am delighted we can confirm the schools to be rebuilt through private finance. The government’s new approach to public private partnerships provides a great opportunity for industry to step up to the mark and I am looking forward to seeing innovative and cost-effective proposals.

‘These 5 privately-financed batches, plus the additional 4 capital-funded batches also announced today, will help us overhaul the schools with the greatest need, ensuring young people can learn in buildings that are up to scratch.’

Through the priority school building programme, 261 schools will be rebuilt or renovated. The first school is due to complete in 2014.

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