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Details revealed for first priority schools

Up to £154 million of schools work will go to contractors on the academies framework under the first priority schools, with bids invited for schools in the North-east, Midlands and London in the coming weeks.

Batches of schools in these regions will be the first to come to market under the £400m capitally funded part of the £2.4 billion Priority School Building Programme.

All 12 contractors on the North and the Midlands academies framework attended a bidders’ day in Stockton today to hear details on the first batches of schools to come to market.

Batches of schools in the North-east and Midlands will come to market this month, followed by London next month once its feasibility study is completed later this month.

Education Funding Agency director of capital Mike Green said two schools that were due to be funded under the £2bn PFI part of the schools programme will now be capitally funded, meaning a total of 44 are now on the capitally funded list.

In the North-east there will be nine schools in the first batch, with a total capital cost of around £60m to £64m and they will include two schools from East Riding originally due to be procured through PFI.

These will be in the local authority areas of Durham, East Riding, Gateshead, Sheffield, Stockton and Sunderland.

They will comprise four primary, three secondary and two special schools and will include the two schools that were previously due to be funded under PFI.

Mr Green said it was always thought that a few schools would be transferred from PFI as they would not be suitable for reasons such as being listed buildings.

He added: “We’ll do the right thing. If it makes absolute sense where there is a building where we want to keep a lot of the buildings rather than force ourselves to knock it down and put it through PFI we will do the right thing.

“We do expect it to be a handful and we always expected it.”

On when the PFI projects will come to market, he said: “At the moment I am absolutely clear that I am saying December. It won’t surprise you to know that we still have things to sort out before then but we are very much working towards December.”

He added that more schools could be switched from PFI funding to capital funding – little more than a fortnight after an EFA spokesperson denied to H&V News that it was considering a change.

The first sample school in the North-east batch will be the Ian Ramsey C of E Aided Comprehensive School.


Contractors that attended the bidders day were Balfour Beatty; Bam Construction; Lend Lease; Carillion; Clugston Construction; Interserve; Kier Regional; Shepherd Construction; Sir Robert McAlpine; Vinci Construction; Wates; and Willmott Dixon.

The first schools to go to market will be:

Durham - Durham Trinity School and Sports College; West Cornforth Primary School.

Gateshead - Hill Top School;

Sheffield - Fox Hill Primary School; Prince Edward Primary School

Stockton-on-Tees - Ian Ramsey C of E Aided Comprehensive School

Sunderland - Usworth Grange Primary School

East Riding - two schools to be transferred from PFI


Local authorities in batches:

North-east: Durham, East Riding, Gateshead, Sheffield, Stockton, Sunderland

Midlands 1: Coventry

London: Barnet, Greenwich, Lambeth, Newham. Waltham Forest

North-west 1: Blackpool, Cheshire West, Halton, Manchester, Tameside

South: Devon, Isle of Wight, Kent, Poole, Southampton

East: Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire

Midlands 2: Birmingham, Derby, Nottinghamshire

North-west 2: Liverpool, St Helens, Wirral

On 18 October there will be a bidders’ day for the Midlands. Six schools will be procured in the Midlands batch 1 for Coventry, with a total value of around £32m to £36m.

These will comprise four primary schools, one secondary and one special school.

The third batch to come to market will be in London, comprising five schools worth a total of £44m to £54m. This batch is due to enter procurement next month.

Bidders on the academies framework won’t be limited in the numbers of schools they will be able to bid for.

All contractors will be invited to enter preliminary applications for batches based on a sample school. They will be shortlisted to two bidders and one will be chosen to build the schools.

Mr Green said he expects the PFI batches to start procurement in December, as revealed by CN more than a fortnight ago.

Click here for the list of 42 schools announced for priority capital funding by education secretary Michael Gove in May.


Bidders’ Days:

The first bidders’ day today focuses on the North-east, with nine PSPB schools in this region with an approximate capital build cost of £60-64m.

The batch consists of four primary, three secondary and two special schools in the local authority areas of Durham, East Riding, Gateshead, Sheffield, Stockton and Sunderland.

The sample school for this batch is Ian Ramsey School, a Church of England secondary school to be built for 1,200 pupils.

The second bidders’ day on 18 October focuses on the Midlands 1 batch.

There are six PSPB schools in this batch with an approximate capital build cost of £32-36 million.

The batch consists of four primary, one secondary and one special school in Coventry. The sample school for this batch is Whitmore Park School, a community primary to be built for 630 pupils.

The third bidders’ day due to be held by the start of next month focuses on the London batch.

There are five PSPB schools in this batch with an approximate capital build cost of £44-54m.

The batch consists of one primary, two secondary and two special schools in the London boroughs of Barnet, Greenwich, Lambeth, Newham and Waltham Forest.

The sample school for this batch is Stratford Academy – a secondary school to be built for 1,500 pupils.

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