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Schools and LEAs given low marks for procurement

The government's schools building programme is suffering from a lack of procurement skills within schools and local authorities, the audit commission has found. In its Improving School Buildings report, published last week, the commission concluded that headteachers lack the experience to run large building projects, 50 per cent of LEA property services departments are 'unsatisfactory or poor', and there are 'systematic problems' behind the government's system of investment in school buildings.

The report calls on the government to develop a vision for school buildings, and on local authorities to develop better procurement methods and help schools to become better clients.

CABE commissioner Richard Feilden said the report identified a number of worrying issues, key ones being a lack of ambition for schools' projects and an 'ad hoc mindset'. There needs to be a 'new creative approach to schools estates', he said.

lThe Department for Education and Skills has announced its £5 billion 'Building Schools for the Future' programme, which includes the development of 12 exemplar school designs.

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