Warning to 261 schools over 'reduced role' in rebuilding programme


The 261 schools being rebuilt under the government's £2.4 billion Priority Schools Building Programme have been warned that the process is to be very different to that of Building Schools for the Future (BSF).

The delivery of the programme is to be managed centrally by the Department for Education's Education Funding Agency (EFA) with a focus on streamlining the procurement process.

The 261 schools have been split into regional groups and a separate procurement exercise will take place for each set, with successful contractors being expected to roll-out similar, cost-effective designs for each group of schools. 

Legal experts have this week warned schools to "get an early handle on the procurement process if they want to have some influence over it". Annie Moy, a partner at law firm Sharpe Pritchard, said that the role of schools in the process is likely to be "very much reduced". As such, she advises that thorough preparation for the initial meeting with the EFA is vital.

Ms Moy warns that unlike BSF, facilities management or managed ICT services will not form part of the PFI contracts, meaning schools must make their own arrangements and will need to meet EFA minimum requirements.

She said: "Schools should start their planning at an early stage for the procurement of facilities management services, as the EFA will require the schools to ensure that these services meet minimum standards. It will also be necessary for schools to run a competitive procurement process before awarding a contract for the services – failing to do so could lead to a legal challenge."

Ms Moy says the build cost per square metre is expected to be lower than for BSF – being capped at around £1,400 per square metre.

She added: "Rather than each school being individually designed the EFA will be looking to contractors to produce economies of scale through replication of design by using a kit of parts or off site volumetric building solution approaches."

The 261 schools to benefit from the programme were announced in May. At the time, education minister Michael Gove also confirmed that 326 schools have missed out on funding despite having what he admitted were "significant condition needs".

In a written statement to Parliament, Mr Gove said: "Some of those (schools) will have their needs addressed through the other funding we have made available for maintenance. Where that is not the case, I will use the information from the national programme of surveys we are currently conducting to ensure that, subject to funds available in the next spending review period, those schools which need renovation will have their needs addressed as quickly as possible. By next autumn we will have details about the condition of every school in the country."


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