Morgan and Clegg unveil second wave of school building grants

The second wave of grants in the government’s priority school building programme has today been announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.

In a joint announcement from the Cabinet Office and Department for Education, 277 schools have been named as recipients of grants from a £2bn fund to rebuild or refurbish buildings, while a further £4bn will be allocated over the next three years to other schools, councils, academy trusts, and voluntary-aided partnerships to help them improve the condition of schools across the country.

The programme, this government’s answer to Labour’s building schools for the future (BSF) initiative, has already allocated grants to 260 schools in its first wave.

Mr Clegg said: “It is crucial that we invest properly in education, so that every child has a fair start in life. ?Thousands of pupils will benefit from better, brighter, warmer classrooms thanks to this funding.

“Children can’t learn and teachers can’t teach in schools that are cold and have leaking roofs.

“To create a stronger economy we have to invest in a fairer society so that our young people can be successful in the future.”

Ms Morgan said: “As part of our long term economic plan, we have continued to invest in school buildings which will ensure we can deliver even more great new schools, transform the learning environment for tens of thousands of pupils and their teachers whilst delivering value for money for the taxpayer.

“We’re also making sure, for the first time, that every local area can benefit from more funding certainty, so that local councils, academy trusts and voluntary-aided partnerships can plan ahead and make the right investment decisions that will deliver the best possible value for their schools.

“This announcement is a major step towards ensuring all children no matter what their background and no matter where they live have access to the best possible schools and learn in an environment that gives them the knowledge and skills to succeed in the global race.”

The news has been welcomed by various bodies, including the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

General secretary Russell Hobby said: “Today’s announcement of extra money for schools is welcome news. Investment in school buildings is vital and needs to be maintained. The government must now ensure that this money will reach the schools that need it most.

“Last week’s proposals by the Conservatives to reduce spending per child by around 10 per cent after the general election will cause difficulties however. Any cuts to education funding will damage the life chances of the next generation of school leavers. Children should not be the ones to pay the price for any political effort to gain control of public finances.

“NAHT has been urging all the major political parties to commit to protecting funding for education in the next parliament. The new funding for buildings, announced today is welcome but with so little time to go to the election, parents and teachers are still waiting to hear which party has the clearest vision for schools after May.”

For more, see edition 19 of Schools Week, dated Friday February 13.

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  1. Nick Clegg arguing that “Children can’t learn and teachers can’t teach in schools that are cold and have leaking roofs” which appears to be at odds with his previous sugestion that DfE, LAs and schools use their maintenance budgets to build the infrastructure needed for his UIFSM policy.

    Clegg now seems to pop up at every single reannouncement of any funding, yet ignores the desperate plight of schools struggling to implement UIFSM.

  2. This announcement was delayed. A cynic might say it was to ensure the announcement came in the run-up to the election. It should be remembered that cancelling Building Schools for the Future meant 700 projects were cancelled. The Gov’t hasn’t reached that figure. And some of the Phase 1 Priority Schools Building Programme were PFI schemes (much criticised by this Gov’t when in opposition).

    It also should be remembered that £1.7b was allocated to the free schools programme for 2014/15 according to the Audit Office. And Gove was accused of taking £400m from Basic Needs Funding for free schools. Even the Telegraph said he didn’t deny it.

    • Many of the announced projects are not whole school replacements but single buildings. And they are not grants – they are projects delivered centrally from Whitehall with little opportunity for schools or local authorities to influence them. The rest of the funding is not new money – it’s just the annual allocation. And for Nicky Morgan to suggest that it’s ‘the first time’ there has been some certainty is laughable. Pre 2010 local authorities got three year allocations as a matter of course. In 2010 Gove cut capital by 80% and since then there have been yearly allocations giving no certainty of funding year to year. This is electioneering plain and simple.