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Gove and Partnership for Schools chief clash over BSF list fiasco

The government and the boss of a high-profile quango were this week embroiled in a public spat over the publication of an error-strewn list of scrapped projects as part of Building Schools for the Future (BSF).

Giving evidence to the education select committee on Tuesday, Tim Byles, chief executive of Partnerships for Schools (PfS), said officials ignored advice to check that a list of schools that would lose out on re-building money did not contain any errors.

Last month, Education Secretary Michael Gove published the list containing numerous mistakes, leading some schools to think they would receive cash only to be told that their rebuilding projects were in line for cancellation.

Four lists containing mistakes were produced over the course of a week. Blame was placed primarily with PfS, the agency responsible for delivering the school rebuilding programme.

Mr Byles told MPs: "I told the Department (for Education) that they should check with local authorities, but this advice was not followed. We advised that it would be better to validate the data."

On Wednesday, the DfE's permanent secretary David Bell admitted to the select committee that his officials had not checked with local authorities for errors, but added that PfS was subsequently asked to "double and triple check" the list before Mr Gove put it to the Commons.

It was Mr Gove's first appearance before the education select committee as Education Secretary.

Speaking of the errors, he said: "I was assured the information I was being given was being checked. But ultimately the responsibility lies with me, even though my staff were diligent and tried to make sure the details were correct."

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