Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Primary schools in major rebuild

School rebuilding
The project will see half of England's primaries rebuilt or refurbished

Hundreds of primary schools in England will be rebuilt, as ministers release 1.75bn for approved building work.

Over 1,500 rebuilding or refurbishment projects will begin across 133 local authorities over the next two years.

The remaining 15 local councils in England will be offered advice on how to bring their plans up to speed.

The projects are part of the Primary Capital Programme, which is investing 7bn to rebuild or refurbish half of all primary schools by 2022-23.

While the Department for Children, Schools and Families has contributed 1.75bn towards work over the next two years, local authorities are matching the funding to bring the overall cost of this stage of the rebuild programme to 3.55bn.

This is a once-in-a-generation chance to transform primary education in every part of the country
Schools Secretary Ed Balls

In total, 41 local authorities have met all the requirements set out in government guidance and will receive funding for projects in both 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Of these, Essex receives the largest share - 30.2m - to oversee 40 new projects, including the building of five new schools and two replacement schools.

Hampshire will receive the next biggest share - 27.8m - for 14 rebuilding and refurbishment projects and Hertfordshire will get 26.5m for 8 projects.

A further 92 local authorities will receive funding to carry out work in 2009-10, with extra support to develop their plans before funding is approved for 2010-11.

Of these, Kent receives the largest share - 31.7m - to oversee 22 projects, including two new schools and four replacement schools.

Manchester receives 27.2m for 18 projects and Lancashire receives 23.3m to fund 20 projects.

Falling short

However, 15 authorities did not satisfy the DCSF with their building and refurbishment plans and will not receive their allocation of the 1.75bn immediately.

These authorities - Bristol, Halton, Hammersmith and Fulham, Herefordshire, Leicestershire, Liverpool, Medway, North Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, Nottingham, Sheffield, Shropshire, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock - will now have consultants sent in by the DCFS to help revise their plans.

It is hoped money can be released in these areas by April 2009.

Their plans were not approved for a range of reasons, including not indicating how the rebuilding would raise standards, not taking account of population changes, not linking in with secondary school building work and not indicating how the work would make schools available for community use and other services.

'Once-in-a-generation chance'

Schools Secretary Ed Balls said: "This is a once-in-a-generation chance to transform primary education in every part of the country - to sweep away buildings now reaching the end of their shelf-life and drive up the quality of our schools.

"Today's announcement means we can build state-of-the-art primary schools at the heart of our communities.

"Such a massive capital funding injection will have big spin-off benefits for the construction industry and local businesses, who will be crucial to fitting out the new and refurbished schools."

Ian Fordham, deputy chief executive of the British Council for School Environments, said: "Primary schools are absolutely key to children's development, so this is a good use of our resources - our school buildings do make a difference to how well children learn and behave.

"The key now is to ensure this money is well spent in a common sense way. It must compliment other broader educational agendas."

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