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Government plans changes to BSF programme

The government is planning a complete overhaul of its selection criteria for the next waves of its £45 billion Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

In a consultation document launched yesterday (9 April), the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) said it is aiming to bring the schools programme into line with other regeneration projects in local authorities.

The first waves of the programme, waves one to six, were prioritised by social deprivation and education attainment, meaning the worst-performing areas were tackled first.

The remaining ‘waves’ – seven to 15 – could be abolished altogether and will have a different timetable, and will be assessed by criteria such as a local authority’s ‘readiness to deliver’.

Tim Byles, chief executive of Partnership for Schools (PfS), the agency charged with delivering BSF, said: ‘It is right to consider whether there are additional criteria that should be taken account of in determining when the remaining authorities should join the programme.

‘The consultation is a welcome step to addressing these issues, and could allow local authorities to join BSF when they can demonstrate they are ready to do so, rather than in “waves” made up of a number of authorities at a time. This means that more local authorities could be able to join the programme earlier than was previously possible.’

The consultation comes after increasing criticism over the speed of delivery of the initial schools. Only 12 have been completed under the BSF programme.

PfS is hoping to publish the results of its procurement review, undertaken with PriceWaterhouseCooper, next month. The review aims to reduce waste and speed up the procurement process.

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