Decade of school building starts with £1bn from 2020-21

Heads welcome new money but say seven times as much will be needed to bring all schools up to a 'satisfactory' condition

Catherine Lough

Prime minister Boris Johnson is to launch a decade of school building and renovations

The government has pledged schools a ten-year rebuilding programme to be launched by Boris Johnson tomorrow.

The prime minister described the scheme as a "major new investment" to ensure schools and colleges are "fit for the future".

The rebuilding programme is to begin in 2020-21 with the first 50 projects, backed by more than £1 billion in funding.

But heads say that more than £6.7bn is needed to bring schools up to a "satisfactory" condition.

Background: Government cuts £500 million from school buildings fund

Related: Half of teachers say school buildings unfit for purpose

News: School building boost pledged by two main parties

The government has said that investment will be targeted towards areas where school building conditions are worst, including in the North and the Midlands.

The Department for Education said further details of the programme would be announced at the next spending review.

Mr Johnson said: “All children deserve the best possible start in life – regardless of their background or where they live.

School buildings 'not fit for purpose'

“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.”

The projects are to be confirmed in the autumn with construction on the first sites to begin from September 2021.

The government is also committing £560 million to repairs and upgrades for schools and £200 million for repairs to FE colleges this year.

The government has said projects will be environmentally friendly to meet net-zero emissions targets.

Schools' eligibility will depend on the condition of their buildings, and further details of this will be announced in the spending review.

Later this year the government also plans to launch a competition for further funding to ensure that all of England is covered by Institutes of Technology to that ensure people have the chance to gain higher technical skills.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “My number one focus will always be to make sure every student has access to excellent education and training. 

“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.

“As we look forward to this September and all children returning to school, we can be assured that for years to come this country’s education system will drive opportunity and prosperity for all.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We’re pleased to see the government’s commitment to rebuilding and repairing schools and colleges.

"It is desperately needed, long overdue, and will require further investment over and above that outlined in this announcement, but it is a significant step in the right direction.

“Three years ago, the National Audit Office reported that it would cost an estimated £6.7 billion to return all school buildings to satisfactory or better condition.

"The situation is likely to have worsened since then, leaving far too many children studying in buildings that are not fit for purpose."

“The school and college estate is a vital national asset, and it is good to see this is being recognised with a plan that begins the process of making it fit for the 21st century.”


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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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