Primary Capital Programme

Education and Skills written statement – made on 9th March 2006.

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Photo of Ruth Kelly Ruth Kelly Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills

I am today publishing a consultation prospectus announcing our proposals for a long-term, strategic, capital investment programme to provide well-designed, sustainable 21st century primary school buildings at the heart of our communities. This uses the additional investment promised by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget last year. This prospectus sets out the objectives of the programme and consults on proposals for meeting them.

Our children deserve the best start in life. To that end, we have increased capital investment to unprecedented levels for the benefit of pupils, staff and the community. Building schools for the future and academies are already transforming secondary schools. For early years, Sure Start is providing new, modern infrastructure. We have already improved most primary schools, but now turn our attention to their longer-term building needs. It is time to help all local authorities, dioceses and communities to transform their primary schools and primary age special schools across the country.

The programme will enable us to meet a challenging set of objectives.

We will rebuild, remodel or refurbish at least 50 per cent. of primary schools. Within that, we would hope to rebuild or take out of use, as a minimum, at least the 5 per cent. of school buildings in the worst physical condition nationally, and to improve or take out of use the 20 per cent. of the worst condition buildings in our most deprived communities.

Our primary schools need buildings that support high standards of teaching and learning, personalised learning and inclusion, and the provision of a wide range of services to pupils, their families and local communities, as envisaged in "Every Child Matters". We want all primary school buildings to be brought up to a good standard, with improvements to, for example, classrooms, kitchens and dining rooms, or sport and arts facilities. We also want every child and family to have access to year-round, 8 am–6 pm childcare, parenting support, specialist support services, a good range of after-school activities and access to ICT and sports and arts facilities after hours; access to be at their child's primary school or at a school or venue nearby, with supervised transfer arrangements for children.

The primary capital programme will help achieve a number of national strategies already underway. It will support particularly "Every Child Matters: Change for Children", the White Paper "Higher Standards, Better Schools for All" and proposals in the Education and Inspection Bill, and the Primary Strategy. It also brings together the 10-year childcare strategy, workforce strategy, sustainable development action plan, and ICT and extended schools programmes.

An extra £150 million will be available in 2008–09, rising to £500 million in 2009–10. It is expected that investment will remain at that level for around 15 years, subject to future public spending decisions—some £7 billion in total. This could be joined to other capital for primary schools from my Department to create a much larger sum for investment. On top of this could be added: other eligible investment from central Government Departments and agencies; local government investment, receipts and prudential borrowing; as well as contributions from the private sector and others. By joining up this funding and targeting it precisely we will achieve the ambitions of this programme.

All local authorities will benefit from capital allocated by a simple, open formula reflecting pupil numbers and deprivation. Devolved formula capital will still be available for primary schools not directly benefiting from this programme.

Authorities will need to set out how they will transform their primary schools over the long term and how they will target local deprivation from the start. My Department will support authorities that need help with this planning, and will approve all local plans before releasing funding.

We know that well-designed, sustainable buildings can transform how teachers teach and learners learn. We have learned much through developing primary school exemplar designs, and propose to use the current design quality indicators and building standards, which should be applied to all schemes.

We must be ambitious in looking at the best models of procurement and construction, if the programme is to achieve significant efficiency and deliver value for money for the taxpayer. We propose the use of local education partnerships (LEPs) where they will have been set up or, where there are no LEPs, other forms of local authority agreements, partnerships or national framework.

At the heart of national policies for transforming teaching and learning is the effective use of ICT and access to stable, leading-edge technology, as set out in "Harnessing Technology" (2005). National and local plans will need to show how ICT will contribute to achieving outcomes.

We set out what we might expect from national government, local authorities, dioceses, schools and pupils—and the skills and capacity that they will need to make this complex programme succeed. We intend to run regional pilots to test planning, design and procurement issues, to find solutions to joined-up planning and funding, and to showcase good practice.

We are inviting responses to the consultation by 14 June 2006. Copies of the consultation prospectus are available on my Department's website and in the House.