Government unveils first schools to benefit from PM’s 10-year rebuilding scheme

Eleanor Busby, PA Education Correspondent

The identities of the first wave of schools to benefit from the Prime Minister’s decade-long rebuilding programme have been unveiled.

More than 70% of the schools chosen for rebuilds and refurbishments – including new classrooms, science labs, sports halls and dining rooms – are in the north of England and Midlands.

The Government has also announced that £10 million will be invested to support school sports and swimming facilities in England.

It is hoped the extra funding – which will be distributed through Sport England – will help encourage pupils to be more physically active.

The investment can also support schools with opening in a Covid-secure manner, such as with additional signage, touch-free entry and cleaning equipment, the Department for Education (DfE) said.

In June, Boris Johnson announced that a £1 billion fund would see construction work start on 50 projects to create modern, energy efficient school buildings.

Primary, secondary and special schools, as well as a sixth form college in West Yorkshire, have been selected as part of the first phase of the 10-year scheme.

A further 21 free schools will also be built across the country, with nearly half of them opening in some of the most deprived areas, the DfE has announced.

Coronavirus – Wed Jan 13, 2021
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (House of Commons/PA)

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “The rebuilding projects are just the start of our major ten-year programme, transforming hundreds of schools and improving the education of tens of thousands of children.

“Alongside this, over 15,500 children will now benefit from 21 new free schools across the country as we look to build back better after the pandemic.

“I am determined to get all children back into education as soon as possible, and will make sure we do not let the pandemic stand in the way of giving every young person the opportunity to succeed, progress and fulfil their potential.”

Construction will begin on a number of the projects from autumn 2021.

The majority of the first 50 rebuild projects are expected to be completed within three to five years.

It is hoped the rebuilding programme will help create jobs, apprenticeships and training opportunities across England.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “It is great that the Government is making this investment. But without wanting to be ungracious, let’s keep this announcement in perspective.

“There is still an enormous backlog of repairs and refurbishment needed to the whole school estate, and at the last count it was estimated that it would cost £6.7 billion to return all school buildings to satisfactory or better condition.

“The Government is making progress in the right direction, but frankly we hope for a day when all schools are able to have facilities fit for the 21st century.”

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