Government pumps money into new building projects

FUNDING has been allocated for 580 building projects at academies, sixth form colleges and voluntary aided schools in England to transform facilities and improve school buildings.

The funding will be used to repair and upgrade school facilities and create modern, fit-for-purpose spaces that meet schools’ needs. It also allows for a small number of expansion projects to increase school capacity. Projects range from the upgrading of boilers to new green, energy-efficient models, to the complete refurbishment of a classroom block with brand new facilities. The works can begin as soon as schools are ready, and the majority should be completed this financial year. Today’s funding comes from the £560million announced by the Prime Minister last month to help the nation bounce back from the pandemic, investing in schools to help teachers deliver a world-class education and create jobs.

The government is also bringing forward £200 million for FE colleges this year, as part of plans for £1.5 billion of investment over five years to transform the FE college estate. The Prime Minister’s transformative new ten-year school rebuilding programme also starts this year, supported by over £1billion in funding for the first 50 projects. This investment will be targeted at school buildings in the worst condition across England – including substantial investment in the North and the Midlands – as part of the Prime Minister’s plan to level up opportunity for all. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “This investment in our school and college buildings helps create modern environments that lend them selves to great teaching, making sure every child has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”The 580 building projects are supported by over £180 million in funding distributed through the Department’s Condition Improvement Fund.

They have been selected based on bids submitted to the fund for the main funding round earlier this year. But the £180m falls short of the £400m called for by the roofing industry in a letter to the DfE from Chief Executive of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC), James Talman, who said: “Over the summer months, roofing contractors would usually have been preparing to work on schools and colleges over the summer holidays, but this year they have been left high and dry due to the delayed announcement. This couldn’t have come at a worse time, with construction industry output plummeting by 40% during lockdown and many roofers now wondering where their next job will come from.” 

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