To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills
(1) how many school premises he estimates will be (a) rebuilt and (b) refurbished using funds from the primary capital programme in each of the next five years;
(2) what the policy of his Department is on (a) rebuilding and (b) refurbishing school premises.
This Government are committed to improving school buildings so that they are suitable for teaching and learning needs in the 21st century. We are supporting record levels of investment in schools: £5.9 billion this year, rising to £8 billion a year by 2010-11. This compares with investment of under £700 million in 1996-97.
This funding is being used to rebuild or refurbish school premises. The option chosen is a local decision, which should be based on a rigorous options appraisal, including the suitability and condition of existing school buildings, value for money, whole-life costs and sustainability.
The primary capital programme starts in 2008-09, and will support investment of £150 million in that year and £500 million in each of the following two years. Subject to future public spending decisions, we expect the programme to continue for around 15 years. The decision whether to rebuild or refurbish a school is best taken locally on the basis of a proper options appraisal.
However, we have said that our long-term objective is to improve at least half of all primary schools. Our planning assumptions are that this will include replacing or taking out of use 5 per cent. of school buildings in the worst physical condition nationally, and replacing or taking out of use the 20 per cent. of the worst condition buildings in our most deprived communities. With strategic and joined-up planning and funding, we hope to exceed this over the life of the programme.