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.
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”.
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