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.’