Investment is key to school building

In response to your article I am happy to confirm that there has been no u-turn with regard to Building Schools for the Future (TES, December 3).

Our public commitment has always been to deliver 21st-century facilities for every secondary pupil "within 10 to 15 years from 20056, subject to future spending decisions". Precisely how long the programme will take will obviously depend on future public spending decisions - something we have again always said openly.

Within that commitment, we have recently set out interim ambitions for what could be achieved by 2011 and 2016. This is intended to build confidence among authorities that together we can deliver this ambitious programme within 15 waves.

We were also reassuring local authorities who will start later that we can address many of their most urgent secondary school needs through other programmes such as academies and the targeted capital fund.

We should also remember just how far we have come since 19967, when only pound;683 million of capital was made available for schools. The pound;6.3 billion investment which we will support in 20078 is a massive six-fold increase in real terms from that starting point, and is part of the pound;17bn we are investing over the next three years.

I remain tremendously excited about our Government's commitment to give all our children and teachers the learning and teaching environments they deserve, and would remind Mr Phil Willis and your readers of the comment from Dr John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association:

"We shouldn't carp about this unprecedented investment in school buildings.

This is fantastic achievement after 20 years of neglect."

Stephen Twigg Minister of state for school standards Sanctuary Buildings Great Smith Street, London SW1

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