DfE's £400m school facilities fund is 'too little, too late'

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The latest round of the government’s Condition Improvement Fund has been launched, with “more than £400 million” available to academies and sixth form colleges.

However, critics have once again said that, while welcome, the money is not enough and the government “still fails to realise the scale of the problem”.

The money is for things like classroom expansions, upgrades to facilities such as sports halls and science laboratories as well as for general wear and tear.

The DfE handed out around £430 million from its Condition Improvement Fund in 2019/20. This latest round is for 2020/21.

However, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said the money was “too little, too late”.

She said: “Schools and colleges have suffered a deep and wounding real-terms funding crisis for many years, which recent spending announcements will not fix. Years of tight budgets has made repairs to buildings unaffordable if not impossible. The coalition government scrapped Building Schools for the Future in 2010, cancelling 700 building projects at a stroke.

“The announcement is yet another admission by government that it has failed schools and colleges. However, they still fail to realise the scale of the problem. Having schools and colleges jump through hoops for vital funds amounts to yet more of the same, rather than a serious solution. It does nothing to help the school system as a whole shift course and find prosperity.”

In launching the funding round, the Department for Education (DfE) said that applications will be “subject to new criteria which will favour bids from schools with good governance and organised finances – including showing restraint on executive salaries”.

The DfE said: “Bids are assessed on a point-based criteria and applicants will get a four-point deduction if they pay two or more salaries in excess of £100,000 or one salary over £150,000, and have failed to take appropriate action in response to our high pay challenge.”

There will also be further scrutiny for successful projects worth more than £1 million, the DfE has said.


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