Headlines: November 21st, 2006



Old and rundown primary schools in 23 local authority areas across England are to be transformed with a 150 million pound cash injection after the authorities were selected as pathfinder projects for the new Primary Capital Programme in 2008-09. They will be expected to lead the way in raising standards through the creation of purpose built, eco-friendly facilities.

The 15-year programme, worth seven billion pounds in total, will be rolled out nationally in 2009 with the aim of rebuilding, updating and remodelling more than half of England’s 18,000 primary and special schools. Nine hundred schools in the poorest condition will be taken out of use. Priority will be given to modernisng kitchens to improve nutritional standards and modernising sports, music and ICT facilities.

The Government says the programme will allow local authorities to address the long-term needs of children and their families and of the wider community with the development of all year round extended hours childcare, parenting support and after school activities. The money is being made available in addition to ongoing, investment in school buildings. The Primary Programme will complement a similar commitment to rebuild every secondary school in the country within 15 years.

The schools Minister, Jim Knight, congratulated each of the local authorities that had been selected as a pathfinder for the programme. “It has been chosen because of its strategic vision and track record in delivering high quality, innovative school buildings. It now has the chance to lead the way for every other local authority in England,” he said.

About 60 per cent of primary schools were built between 1945 and 1976, often using fast but poorer quality construction techniques, and they are seen as being close to the end of their design life. Mr. Knight added, “Inspiring, purpose-built buildings are a key part of providing an inspiring education to transform the learning environment of our youngest pupils and meeting the needs of the wider community.”