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Christmas gift from chancellor

GORDON Brown, the chancellor, this week announced a pound;200 million windfall for school building repairs.

The additional funding, made possible by a windfall tax on utility company profits, was originally allocated to the New Deal scheme to get disaffected 18 to 24-year-olds into education, training or work.

But due to falling unemployment fewer young people than ex-pected took part in the scheme, Mr Brown said, so the money was being redirected to schools.

Headteachers will be free to spend the cash on classroom redecoration, new boilers, roofs, library facilities or other projects, he told the Commons in his Pre-Budget Statement.

The money will be sent out to local authorities later this month to be distributed to schools. Education Secretary David Blunkett said he wanted all schools to get the money by Christmas. Heads will be allowed to carry the money over to the next financial year if they cannot spend it by April.

Headteachers' organisations welcomed the money which they said would help reduce the backlog of repairs.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said it would make "one hell of a difference".

"It's good news for pupils who deserve to be educated in decent surroundings and good news for teachers who deserve to work in the best possible climate."

Most f the new money, pound;167m, is to be spent in English schools. A typical secondary school will receive an extra pound;17,000 on top of the pound;19,000 it was given last year. The average primary will get pound;5,500 to add to its pound;6,500.

Scotland and Wales will share the remaining pound;33m but the devolved administrations will decide how the cash is distributed. A separate announcement is expected for Northern Ireland.

Earlier this week, speaking at the Confederation of British Industry's conference in Birmingham, Mr Brown urged every business to "adopt a school" to teach the "virtues of enterprise".

"I want all schools - especially those in disadvantaged areas - to benefit.

"So I urge all businesses to adopt a school - whether it is by taking students on work experience and teachers on placements, sending employees into schools, or being business governors.

"By adopting a school, every business in the country will be helping to build the enterprise culture that we all want to see."

BROWN'S BONANZA

March 2000: pound;1 billion budget boost for education put nearly pound;300 million directly into the hands of headteachers

July 2000: pound;12 billion over three years. The comprehensive spending review gives schools up to pound;70,000 in direct grants to spend on boosting standards

November 2000: pound;200 million for school repairs

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