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Boris Johnson announces £1 billion school building programme

Shutterstock school corridor
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Prime minister Boris Johnson has promised to spend £1 billion rebuilding schools over the next decade

Up to 50 new schools will be among the first tranche of projects identified later this year, with construction expected to start on the projects in September 2021.

The government has also said it will provide £560 million for refurbishing existing school buildings, with £200 million set to be spent on repairs at further education colleges. 

The major funding package is the first allocated to rebuilding schools since 2014 and has been announced ahead of other likely new spending on capital projects, with funding for new hospitals and homes expected to be unveiled by Johnson later this week.

Johnson said: ‘As we bounce back from the pandemic, it’s important we lay the foundations for a country where everyone has the opportunity to succeed, with our younger generations front and centre of this mission.

‘This major new investment will make sure our schools and colleges are fit for the future, with better facilities and brand new buildings so that every child gets a world-class education.’

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: ‘Replacing and upgrading poor condition school and college buildings with modern, energy-efficient designs will give our students and teachers the environment they deserve and support them to maximise their potential.’

But the leader of the Association of School and College Leaders, a head teacher’s union, warned that the money for school repairs would not be enough.

Geoff Barton said school repairs ‘require further investment over and above that outlined in this announcement’ but added that it was ‘a significant step in the right direction’.

In 2017 the National Audit Office said it would cost £6.7 billion to bring the country’s schools to a ‘satisfactory’ level, with a further £7.1 billion needed to restore them in ‘good’ condition.

Harry Hoodless, global education lead at Broadway Malyan, said that ‘throwing more money’ at school building is not in.

‘We have a fantastic opportunity to look more fundamentally at how we design and build facilities that enable a flexible approach to learning, provide teachers and students with high quality facilities and create spaces that can adapt to unforeseen circumstances,’ he said.

‘The Covid-19 pandemic, and inability for thousands of schools to accommodate socially distanced learning, has demonstrated how crucial it is to revisit what we provide for future generations of young people and for great teachers to work to the best of their ability.’

  • 4 Comments

Readers' comments (4)

  • Quoting : "This is ridiculous! Boris Johnson is today asking us to thank him for an extra £1bn for school rebuilding over next 10 years. The NAO estimates £7bn is needed RIGHT NOW just to repair schools left to crumble after a decade of under-funding by the Conservative Governments!"

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  • Ridiculous? that's being very polite, how about cynical and grotesque?
    Designed to make a splash and, sadly - together with the notion of a 'bounce back' - in character, to be seen in the context of tarting up the government and Royal Family's official plane with a £900,000 respray, a gesture largely, I would venture, to satisfy his populist ego.
    Appearances are all with Boris, superficiality is the name of the game - and it's permeating through his government.

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  • I'm very confused as to what this 'extra £1bn' means to current spend budgets, or the way it is being reported, from some sources, as the new BSF.

    Since the cancellation of BSF (circ £45-55bn for circ 3000 secondary schools) in 2010, the Conservative gov has continued to build/ refurbish schools through capital investment - just at a massively under funded total budget and cost per msq for each school compared to BSF aspirations.

    It appears around circ £10bn has been spent on schools since 2010 through various DfE frameworks. A new framework was just formed earlier this year for another £3bn up to 2024 to keep projects moving. Another framework is coming to an end 2021 - which happens to tie in to this new £1bn investment timeline.

    My question is - how does this £1bn fit in to this? It is a drop in the ocean in the total investment needed for the 24,000 schools in England, and my cynicism says this budget is just being spun as new investment, when in reality it is just part of the essential ongoing investment that was always known to be needed, just to keep our school estates (barely) fit for purpose.

    I'm not waving any celebratory flags.

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  • 'Henry' - you're approaching this from the wrong point of view.
    It's not really anything to do with schools - the parlous overall state of 24,000 English schools doesn't really matter, witness the current development of science and sports facilities at Eton (a cronyvirus hotspot).
    In reality it's to do with throwing a sop to the proletariat that had crossed over to vote with the bourgeoisie, on the assumption that if they're daft enough to vote for a party led by him then they're daft enough to believe his latest nonsense, and thus their adulation will continue.

    He might be wrong about that.

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