Crumbling schools in England to benefit from 10-year government rebuilding programme

Monday 29th June 2020 12:30 BST

Representing the first major rebuilding programme to be launched since 2014, schools will benefit from additional investment.

Schools and colleges will also receive funding this year to refurbish buildings in order to continue raising standards across the country.

The first wave of money will be spent in former red wall communities in the North and Midlands where voters showed their support for the Conservatives in the 2019 general election.

Boris Johnson said: "All children deserve the best possible start in life - regardless of their background or where they live.

"As we bounce back from the pandemic, it's important we lay the foundations for a country where everyone has the opportunity to succeed, with our younger generations front and centre of this mission.

"This major new investment will make sure our schools and colleges are fit for the future, with better facilities and brand new buildings so that every child gets a world-class education."

Speaking during a visit to Ealing Fields High School in west London, the PM said he wanted to spend a "huge amount" on schools and today's announcement was "just the beginning".

"We're acutely conscious of the need to refurbish and repair," Mr Johnson said.

"We see the advantage of putting in long-term investment for the country, but also driving job creation now."

But Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Layla Moran called the PM's announcement "spin over substance".

"The funding is nowhere near the £7bn the National Audit Office has said is needed to repair our schools," said the MP.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the money was welcome, but the detail was "very vague".

He told Sky News there should be a budget next month focused on jobs and called for an extension of the furlough scheme for certain sectors.

The government has committed to spend more than £1bn to fund the first 50 projects starting this year.

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The projects will be confirmed in the autumn, and construction on the first sites will begin from September 2021.

Earlier this month, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced a £1bn COVID catch-up plan to tackle the impact of lost teaching time, a move which did not extend to colleges.

The Association of Colleges Chief Executive, David Hughes, said: "This is a good first step by the government to support colleges to be central players in the country's recovery.

"After being excluded from the catch-up funding, colleges needed some good news this week to boost morale.

"Colleges will provide training, skills and education to over two million young people and adults next year, many of whom will need advice, support, and high quality teaching to be able to prepare for what will be a tough labour market."

Dr Simon Uttley, headteacher at Blessed Hugh Faringdon Catholic School in Reading, has given the government announcement a cautious welcome.

"This money is very welcome. For years, there has been underfunding in terms of per pupils funding and also underfunding when it comes to the buildings.

"This is very important because over a number of years we feel like we've been forgotten.

"It isn't enough to solve the problem of the building infrastructure in our schools across the country.

"It is a step in the right direction but I think it is now a case of making up for what happened in the past."

Meanwhile, schools in Wales have welcomed more pupils back.

The Welsh government said schools will operate with staggered starts and breaks for "check in, catch up and prepare" sessions for all year groups.

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