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Relief as ‘hundreds’ of BSF jobs saved

Up to 500 jobs may have been saved by the unexpected decision to resurrect sample schools and academies put on hold during the shake-up of the £55 billion Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme

Last week, education secretary Michael Gove announced that 33 sample schemes placed ‘under discussion’ last month will restart as a result of an agreement between the Treasury and the Department for Education (see below).

Another 119 academies, classed as ‘schools being given new sponsors to raise attainment for the most disadvantaged’, are also intended to go ahead.

The 44 academies ‘at the most advanced stage’ in their capital planning with Partnerships for Schools will receive immediate funding, while ‘capital allocations’ for the remaining 75 will be decided in the autumn. Among those saved are Sheppard Robson’s Sheppey Academy, Grace Academy and Darlaston Academy, as well as Aedas’ Oasis Academy in Oldham (pictured).

Tony Poole, partner at Sheppard Robson, said: ‘Our expectations had been “managed downwards”, so this was good news. The decision has kept 30 people employed here and up to 500 people across the profession and thousands more on the contractor side.’

At the beginning of July, 719 schemes worth £7.5 billion were stopped (AJ 08.07.10). A wave of academies and sample schools that had reached preferred bidder stage were put under review. With doubts the projects would restart, some sources predicted more than 1,000 architects working on BSF schemes could lose their jobs.

A spokesperson for the RIBA said: ‘[The decision] gives much greater certainty to practices who had planned for this work to go ahead.

‘We will be arguing to the capital review team that further schemes should go ahead utilising the RIBA smart procurement model to deliver quicker, cheaper and to a greater quality.’

Heinz Richardson, director of Jestico + Whiles, whose two Southampton academies were given the nod, said: ‘We do, of course welcome the announcement [but] it should not be forgotten that there is still an enormous amount of work needed to bring hundreds of schools in the UK up to modern standards.

‘While we believe that the BSF process was in need of fundamental reform and hope that the current James Review will cut out the waste, we also urge the panel members not to lose sight of the real benefits that well-designed school buildings have on education, learning and attainment.’

Other industry comments:

Geoff Halliwell, director at Bond Bryan Architects, said: ‘At this moment, it is very good news for the Dyke House project at Hartlepool. Elsewhere, although the extent and timing of the majority of pipeline projects still remains unclear, there is a definite pulse to schools work going forward.’

Tony Langan, director at Aedas said: [This is] great news for Aedas and the wider construction industry, as is the confirmation that capital will be allocated to the upcoming projects following the autumn spending review. A significant amount of the capital spend of each of these projects goes directly into the local economy and this along with the news that we will now soon be delivering new and refurbished teaching and learning environments will be a boost for schools and their communities across the country.’


Previous story (AJ 06.08.10)

BSF cuts: All sample schools and most academies saved from axe

The government is set resurrect all the sample schools and most of the academies put on hold during the shake-up of the £55 billion Building Schools for the Future programme last month

Following an announcement this afternoon, 33 sample schemes placed ‘under discussion’ by education secretary Michael Gove will be allowed to restart as a result of an agreement between the Treasury and the Department for Education.

Another 119 academies, classed as ‘schools being given new sponsors to raise attainment for the most disadvantaged’ are also intended to go ahead.

The 44 academies ‘at the most advanced stage’ in their capital planning with Partnerships for Schools will receive cash immediately while ‘capital allocations’ for the remaining 75 will be decided in the spending review (see full list attached). Among those affected to ‘one degree or another’ are Sheppard Robson’s Sheppey Academy, Grace Academy and Darlaston Academy.

While 719 schemes (such as Maber’s Tibshelf school) worth £7.5 billion were instantly stopped dead at the beginning of July by Gove, a wave of new academies as well as the sample schools which had reached preferred bidder stage - but not financial close - were put under review.

Gove said: ‘This is good news for those schools. I know how hard councils and schools have worked on these projects and I have been anxious to ensure we can do everything we can, in difficult economic times, to support the crucial work of raising educational standards.

Planning for these projects is well advanced and we are keen they should proceed without further delay. I’m determined that we press ahead with the Academies programme and want all those schools identified as future Academies to enjoy the freedoms and benefits Academy status brings.

He added : ‘We will also work with councils, sponsors and the construction industry to ensure we bear down on costs and bureaucracy so every new school is built in as cost-effective and efficient a way as possible, and I am delighted that they have already responded so positively to this challenge.’

List of saved sample schools:

Barking and Dagenham                                

Dagenham Park                (PFI)
Sydney Russell                                               

Blackpool                                          

Highfield Humanities College    (PFI)
Mountford Centre          
St. Mary’s Catholic College         

Camden                                              

UCL Academy  
South Camden Community        
Swiss Cottage Special School                                    

Derby City

Derby Moor
Noel Baker         (PFI)
St Martins                                          

Ealing                                                  

Cardinal Wiseman Roman Catholic School                     
Dormers Wells High School                                        

Halton                 

The Grange Comprehensive High School              (PFI)
Wade Deacon High School                                          

Hartlepool                                         

Dyke House Sports And Technology College                    
St. Hilds CE VA School   

Hertfordshire                                                                                  

Lonsdale School               (PFI)
Marriotts  (PFI)
The Nobel School           

Lambeth

Dunraven (Foundation Mixed) Secondary School                            
Lilian Bayliss

Norwood

Oldham                                                               
New RC School  (PFI)
North Chadderton          

Poole                                   

Ashdown Technology College  

Somerset                                           

Chilton Trinity   (PFI)
Elmwood             (PFI)
Robert Blake                     

St Helens                                            

De La Salle School
Rainford High Technology College                                          

Wandsworth                                                                                   

Burntwood        
Southfields

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