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Billions pumped into building work

THE GOVERNMENT is due to announce billions of pounds of extra investment in school buildings to tackle the backlog of repairs and provide the extra space that will be needed as a result of the workload reforms.

Money will be spent on school repairs still outstanding despite a tenfold increase in building money since 1997. It will also be used to build staffrooms to accommodate the influx of assistants being brought in to relieve teachers as a result of the workload deal agreed last month. New desks will be provided for teachers so they have space for marking and preparing work outside the staffroom.

The announcement is expected after some last-minute wrangles over how the money should be split between primaries and secondaries is ironed out.

As The TES revealed in October, schools minister David Miliband has been negotiating over a massive long-term programme of investment to rebuild and refurbish every secondary in the country.

The plans were put on hold after the departure of former education secretary Estelle Morris but have been revived, albeit in a modified form.

Most of the money is expected to be found through the Government's controversial private finance initiative. Critics of PFI, which contracts out the building and maintenance of schools to private companies for up to 30 years, will see the move as a big step towards the privatisation of the education system.

But heads and local government leaders will welcome the announcement as necessary to tackle years of neglect of school buildings.

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