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33 school building projects backed

More than 30 school building projects at risk of cancellation have been given the go-ahead.

Education Secretary Michael Gove announced 33 "sample" schemes in 14 local authority regions will proceed, while indicating 119 academies would also be funded.

The decision comes after the Government scrapped the £55 billion Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme last month.

Under the original scheme, set up by Labour in 2004, all 3,500 secondary schools in England were to be rebuilt or refurbished by 2023. While all projects past the financial close stage were allowed to continue, schools earlier in the process had their schemes axed.

The list of "sample" schools - pilot projects in local authorities who have yet to start wider building programmes - are BSF projects which had not yet reached financial close but were at an advanced stage of planning, according to the Department for Education.

Mr Gove added that 44 sponsored academies would receive capital funding immediately while allocations for the remaining 75 would be decided in the Spending Review.

The Government said it was working with construction companies and sponsors to reduce costs for school building programmes.

Mr Gove said: "I know how hard councils and schools have worked on these projects and I have been anxious to ensure we can do everything we can, in difficult economic times, to support the crucial work of raising educational standards. Planning for these projects is well advanced and we are keen they should proceed without further delay.

"I'm determined that we press ahead with the Academies programme and want all those schools identified as future Academies to enjoy the freedoms and benefits Academy status brings."

Tim Byles, chief executive of Partnerships for Schools, said: "I am very pleased that today's announcement means the continuation of all the Building Schools for the Future sample schemes."


From Belfast Telegraph