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PFI BONANZA TO REBUILD BRITAIN'S SCHOOLS

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The government is to kickstart a£25bn programme to renew or rebuild England's entire secondary school estate, prov...
The government is to kickstart a£25bn programme to renew or rebuild England's entire secondary school estate, providing a boon to European project management firms, reported The Business (p2).

The overhaul will be financed through a series of private finance initiatives, melding public and private money. As early as this spring, the government will put out to tender for pilots for the Building Schools for the Future programme, worth£150m to£200m each.

They are for Leeds, Bradford, Greenwich and Bristol. Before then, the government intends to announce the locations of the next wave of pilots. Up to 20 new schemes could be unveiled in February.

Under the programme, spearheaded by school standards minister David Miliband, all schools will be refurbished, flattened and rebuilt, or moved by 2021. Playgrounds and playing fields would also be given a makeover. About 60% of the money is expected to come from the private sector.

Local education authorities have been invited to apply for funding for their schools. Each authority could have its own supply chain, meaning that up to 150 such chains could be assembled. Priority is being given to schools in deprived areas with poor performance but better-achieving schools could eventually qualify for funding under the programme in the next 10 to 15 years.

The Greenwich pilot, which involves building, remodelling or refurbishing 40 secondary schools and providing maintenance over a 25-year period, is to test drive a not-for-profit form of PFI, opening the door to the widespread use of alternative forms of PFI schools contracts. Any surplus will be reinvested in the council's school stock instead of being paid out to shareholders.

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