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.
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.