Committee condemns “over-optimistic” plans to refurbish every secondary school

June 16, 2009 at 2:39 pm Leave a comment

schoolbuilding

Sedgehill School in Lewisham moved into new school buildings in January.

The Public Accounts Committee has said the government’s ambitious plans to rebuild or refurbish every secondary school in the country created “expectations for the speed of delivery that could not be met.”

The Department for Children, Schools and Families’ Building Schools for the Future Programme (BSF) plans to rebuild half of the schools, structurally remodel 35% and refurbish 15%, at a cost of £52-£55 billion over its lifetime.

The committee said the Department and Partnerships for Schools wasted public money by relying on consultants to make up for shortfalls in its own skills and resources.

“The Department should avoid making false economies in central administration, whilst Partnerships for Schools should target its resources where they can have the most effect,” according to the report.

“Both bodies should plan their required level of skills and resources to avoid costly reliance on consultants for core roles.

“The Department was over-optimistic in its original planning assumptions for BSF, creating expectations for the speed of delivery that could not be met,” the committee said.

“Of the 200 schools originally planned to be completed by December 2008, only 42 had been by that date.

“Although the Department had hoped to deliver the programme over 10-15 years, it now expects it to take 18 years, with the last school completed in 2023.”

The committee concluded it is too early to conclude whether BSF will achieve its educational objectives.

“To date, over-optimism has meant the programme could not live up to expectations.

“Establishing Partnerships for Schools to manage the programme centrally has helped local authorities to deliver more effectively, but while Local Education Partnerships have potential advantages, their value for money is yet to be proven.

“And it will be very challenging to deliver all schools by 2023.”

Click here to read the report.

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Entry filed under: Committees, Commons. Tags: , , , , .

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