What plans does the DfE have to expand the School Rebuilding Programme?

2021-03-25

The Department for Education has unveiled plans to expand its School Rebuilding Programme this summer, with 50 additional projects potentially in the pipeline.


First announced in mid-2020, the programme will see schools split funding to carry out essential repairs and create state-of-the-art learning spaces.


Having initially announced the first 50 schools to split £1 billion of funding in February, the Department for Education has said it plans to expand the programme, although further finances are yet to be allocated.


The Department also moved to clarify how the initial 50 schools were chosen after some ministers had raised concerns as to whether political decisions had influenced the process.


Projects were picked as they showed the “highest condition need” based on a condition data collection put together between 2017 and 2019, or because they featured buildings of “specific construction types”.


Picking projects based on the greatest need

Looking ahead to the next projects, the Department for Education has said it will use the data again to identify schools with the greatest need, meaning institutions do not need to apply to be considered.


“We will directly contact those in school about their buildings, inviting only those responsible bodies to confirm details about buildings,” they said.


This approach should “limit the burden on the sector” according to the Department for Education, as only those likely to be involved in the programme will need to spend time on it.


Schools that have closed since the condition data collection was carried out will not be included in the programme, and neither will those where a need identified by the data “has since been resolved”.


Seeking to clarify data in weeks ahead

The Department for Education added that it will look to seek up-to-date details on any buildings that are being considered in the coming weeks and that schools will be contacted where necessary.


However, the Department has also said that being contacted “does not guarantee that the school or buildings will be included in the programme”.


When approached, schools will be given six weeks to complete online documentation relating to the current condition of buildings, while site visits are also likely.


The process is expected to run from now until the summer when the Department for Education hopes to confirm which prioritised projects have been chosen.


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