[holding answer 13 March 2009]: We have not invited local authorities to bid to bring forward Building Schools for the Future (BSF) funding, because the strategic planning that underpins BSF means it is not a suitable programme to act as a fiscal stimulus. BSF typically involves the building of entire new schools; so design and planning need care and time. Accelerating the construction would curtail this planning and would thereby jeopardise the quality and transformational nature of the programme. We are however working with partnerships for schools to simplify procedures and accelerate delivery, and the procurement process has already been accelerated and costs reduced.
On 3 March, we announced allocations to authorities and schools of schools capital from other programmes brought forward from 2010-11 into 2009-10, to act as a fiscal stimulus and to bring investment benefits early to pupils and staff. Dorset was allocated advances totalling £12.0 million, of which £9.0 million is for the local authority, and £3.0 million for schools as an advance of devolved formula capital to be used by schools for their local priorities.
The formal start of projects in BSF is the meeting between the local authority, DCSF and Partnerships for Schools (PfS) known as the remit meeting.
Please see following list:
Local authorities which have commenced BSF projects
Barking and Dagenham
Hammersmith and Fulham
Kensington and Chelsea
North East Lincolnshire
Redcar and Cleveland
Telford and Wrekin
Local authorities which have been given approval for schemes but which have yet to start
Local authorities which have not yet been given approval for schemes to start
Bath and North East Somerset
Brighton and Hove
East Riding of Yorkshire
Isle of Wight
Kingston upon Thames
Richmond upon Thames
West Cheshire and Chester1
Windsor and Maidenhead
1 Submitted an expression of interest in the BSF reprioritisation in advance of the boundary changes.
1. Authorities which have had their remit meeting are considered to have started projects.
2. Authorities which are in included in Waves 1-6a of BSF but have not yet had their remit meeting are considered to have approval for schemes but have not yet started.
3. The authorities that have not yet entered the programme are considered to not yet have approval.
The comparative costs and merits of refurbishing and rebuilding schools vary from one school to another. Options, including refurbishment and rebuilding as appropriate, are appraised and compared locally, by or on behalf of local education authorities.
The Department has not assessed the energy required for completion of the rebuilding programme. Refurbishment and rebuilding projects above a threshold are required to meet challenging targets based on a standard form of environmental assessment that takes into account construction methods.
In the 2007 publication “Better Buildings, Better Design, Better Education”, my Department provided information on numbers of schools rebuilt or improved in England since 1997, including 1,106 new schools and a further 27,000 new or improved classrooms. The information was derived from data received from local education authorities and we anticipate asking authorities for an update of the information later this year.
95 local authorities sent in revised expressions of interest for the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme which include proposals for first follow-on projects. I am making the indicative BSF prioritisation lists available in the House Libraries—they were announced on 2 March 2009.
Guidance to authorities on revising their expressions of interest included that follow-on projects should be up to £100 million in capital value, and Partnerships for Schools (PfS) provided a funding model to assist authorities. Details of projects, including capital value, will be appraised by PfS when it engages with authorities on their readiness to deliver.
I have not set dates for announcing formal entry into the BSF programme. Before then, PfS will engage with authorities to discuss their readiness to deliver and then assess the evidence that they provide. We aim to ensure that projects which formally enter the programme are fully ready to deliver: taking time to get this right at this stage ensures good and timely delivery later on.
I aim to bring all authorities into the programme as soon as is practicable, provided they are ready to deliver. Consideration will also be given to starting follow-on projects where this is appropriate in the interests of good overall programme management, for instance where an authority already in the programme needs to maintain momentum, or where larger authorities need to have a manageable flow of projects over the whole programme.