Planned school rebuilds won’t be bumped by RAAC projects

Aaron Morby 2 weeks ago

Department for Education civil servants have confirmed that already committed to school building projects will not be bumped from the existing programme due to the crisis caused by crumbly concrete.

Top civil servants yesterday confirmed that 400 school projects already identified will remain in the Government’s 10-year school programme to build 500 schools.

Quizzed yesterday by watchdog MPs on the Public Accounts Committee, DfE permanent secretary Susan Acland-Hood insisted the government would not be taking named schools out of the schools rebuilding programme.

But she said that the remaining 100 places still to be allocated in the next tranche 5 of the programme would now likely be reserved for RAAC rebuilds.

The current building programme aims to rebuild 50 schools a year, although it has so far failed to meet delivery targets.

Three months ago, the National Audit Office discovered that just 24 contracts had been awarded three years into the programme, far below a target of 83 projects.

The delay was blamed on providers not taking up contracts given instability in the construction sector and inflationary risks.

Despite poor delivery so far, Jane Cunliffe, chief operating officer of the DfE’s operations and infrastructure group, said the department was confident it had capacity to build more than 50 projects through its supply chain if needed, holding out the prospect that Government could seek to step up delivery rates in the face of the school condition crisis.

She confirmed that the bulk of extra spending requirements would fall into the next spending review covering the later part of the programme.

Tranche 1, 2 and 3 projects now have fixed time tables but many of 239 projects in tranche 4 announced in December 2022 still have to finalise building start dates allowing scope for the DfE to advance RAAC rebuild projects without impacting existing timetable projects.

List of tranches 1-4 in the new schools programme, click here.


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