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Capital Spending

Volume 708: debated on Thursday 3 February 2022

Today, my noble Friend The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the School System (Baroness Barran) made the following statement:

Today, we have published the Government’s response to the consultation on prioritising remaining places in the school rebuilding programme. We have also published guidance on how schools can be nominated for the next prioritisation round, which also opened today.

The school rebuilding programme was announced by the Prime Minister in June 2020. We have already announced the first 100 schools to benefit from the programme as part of a commitment to rebuild or refurbish the poorest condition buildings at 500 schools over the next decade. Replacing poor condition buildings with modern designs that will be net zero carbon in operation will transform education for hundreds of thousands of pupils.

The first projects in the programme are now under construction, and the finished buildings will bring pride to the students, staff and communities who use them. The programme also represents a close partnership with the construction sector, enabling us to invest in skills, drive growth and build back better as we recover from the covid-19 pandemic.

We will continue to make the best use of remaining places in the programme by prioritising schools with buildings in the poorest condition, or with significant issues that could pose a risk of closure.

In its consultation, the Department proposed an approach to assessing nominated schools using consistent, national data on school condition. Bodies responsible for school buildings would also be able to submit additional professional evidence of severe need, such as structural issues. The majority of consultation respondents agreed with these proposals.

The approach we are putting in place for selecting schools will, for the first time in this programme, allow academy trusts, local authorities and other bodies responsible for school buildings to put forward schools for consideration in a straightforward way that minimises burdens on the school sector. This approach also harnesses local insight into the schools with greatest need and maximises value to the taxpayer.

In addition to our building programmes, we also support the school sector with annual capital funding. We have allocated £11.3 billion to improve the condition of the school estate since 2015, including £1.8 billion in financial year 2021-22. Allocations for 2022-23 will be set out in due course.

Further details, including guidance on how schools can be nominated in the upcoming prioritisation round, have been published on Copies of the consultation response and Equalities Impact Assessment will be placed in the House Library.