School repairs are being delayed.

The government has named the first 50 school rebuilding projects that will benefit from £1 billion in capital cash in the coming years.

The Department for Education has named the schools that will form the first tranche of its new 10-year school rebuilding programme. Money spent will average £20 million per school.

The rebuilding projects are just the start of our major ten-year programme

The £1 billion first phase of the school rebuilding programme was announced last year. The government has said it will deliver 500 such projects over a ten-year period, but future funding amounts won’t be confirmed until the next spending review.

The DfE said the first 50 projects will “create modern education environments, providing new facilities from classrooms and science labs, to sports halls and dining rooms”.

Construction on the first rebuilds will start in the autumn, and the government has said the majority of the 50 are “expected to be completed within three to five years”.

Government targets marginal seats

But analysis by Schools Week found a third of the rebuilding projects announced by the government today are in marginal seats – including several ‘red wall’ constituencies won by the Conservatives in 2019.

Ofqual

A school in Williamson’s constituency will be rebuilt

Of the 50 projects, seven are in seats currently held by the Conservatives with majorities of less than 5,000 – including five in so-called ‘red wall’ seats in the north and midlands won from Labour in 2019.

A further nine are in seats where Labour MPs hold majorities of less than 5,000, many of which will be key targets for the Conservatives at the next election.

Forty-six per cent of the projects are in Conservative safe seats – including one in education secretary Gavin Williamson’s own constituency of South Staffordshire. Twenty per cent are in safe Labour seats, Stretford and Urmston, represented by shadow education secretary Kate Green.

The DfE told Schools Week that the 50 schools selected are those most in need of rebuilding based on condition improvement data already held by the government, with the decision ultimately made by education secretary Gavin Williamson. Schools did not need to apply.

More than 70 per cent of the schools are in the North and Midlands.

Projects ‘just the start’ of 10-year school rebuilding scheme

Williamson said the projects were “just the start of our major ten-year programme, transforming hundreds of schools and improving the education of tens of thousands of children”.

Geoff Barton.

‘Perspective’ needed: Geoff Barton

Alison Rigby, head of Sr John Fisher Catholic High School in Wigan, which is one of the projects, spoke of her “sheer delight that our young people will have access to modern, state-of-the-art facilities in the future”.

But although he welcomed the announcement, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL leadership union, said it needed to be kept “in perspective”.

“There is still an enormous backlog of repairs and refurbishment needed to the whole school estate,” warned Barton. The National Audit Office found in 2017 that it would cost £6.7 billion to bring every school building up to ‘satisfactory’ condition.

 

The first 50 rebuilding projects

(School name and local authority area shown)

King Edward VI Handsworth Wood Girls’ Academy, Birmingham

Oak Academy, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

Sawston Village College, Cambridgeshire

Cardinal Newman Catholic School, Coventry

Coundon Court, Coventry

West Coventry Academy, Coventry

Somerlea Park Junior School, Derbyshire

Wilsthorpe School, Derbyshire

Ash Hill Academy, Doncaster

Ridgewood School, Doncaster

The King Edmund School, Essex

Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School, Gloucestershire

Thomas Keble School, Gloucestershire

Fulham Cross Academy, Hammersmith and Fulham

Bay House School, Hampshire

Pinewood School, Hertfordshire

Coombe Boys’ School, Kingston upon Thames

Greenhead College, Kirklees

Lytham St Annes High School, Lancashire

Tarleton Academy, Lancashire

Whitworth Community High School, Lancashire

Catherine Infant School, Leicester

The Castle Rock School, Leicestershire

Sandilands Primary School, Manchester

Whitley Bay High School, North Tyneside

Sutton Bonington Primary School, Nottinghamshire

Yeoman Park Academy, Nottinghamshire

Kingsway Park High School, Rochdale

Littleborough Community Primary School, Rochdale

Newhouse Academy, Rochdale

Deyes High School, Sefton

Belvidere School, Shropshire

Longton Lane Community Primary School, St Helens

Wombourne High School, Staffordshire

Farringdon Community Academy, Sunderland

Greenshaw High School, Sutton

St John Vianney School, Trafford

Minsthorpe Community College, Wakefield

Francis Barber Pupil Referral Unit, Wandsworth

Hartshill School, Warwickshire

Kineton High School, Warwickshire

Southam College, Warwickshire

Greenway Academy, West Sussex

The Byrchall High School, Wigan

Fred Longworth High School, Wigan

St John Fisher Catholic High School, Wigan

St Thomas’ CofE Primary School, Leigh, Wigan

S.Peter’s Collegiate Church of England School, Wolverhampton

Pershore High School, Worcestershire

Waseley Hills High School, Worcestershire