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Gove admits BSF mistakes

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A Department for Education list of schools affected by the cancellation of the £55bn Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme contained 25 errors that led some councils to believe their projects would still go ahead.

Education  secretary Michael Gove announced on Monday that some 700 schools in 44 authorities would not be rebuilt or refurbished as the programme was halted for most authorities who had not reached financial close with private sector partners.

But a list circulated detailing the effects in individual authorities was wrong and on Wednesday evening the House of Commons was unusually full as Mr Gove apologised for breaching Parliamentary etiquette in the way the list was originally released, and for inaccuracies in it.

Mr Gove told the Speaker: “I’m grateful to you and to the whole House for granting me the opportunity to make this statement, and once again to unreservedly apologise.”

Sandwell MBC is one authority that has been affected.

Monday’s list suggested that all of its BSF programme would still go ahead, but the council has since learned that just two of the borough’s proposed new schools will now be built, with a question mark left over three more, and several other projects definitely cancelled.

Deputy leader Steve Eling (Lab) said the situation was “bizarre and disgraceful”  and pledged to challenge the government’s decision.

“The official letter lodged in the House of Commons library says our Building Schools for the Future scheme was confirmed and now that appears to have been reneged upon,” he said.

“On the face of it members of the House of Commons have been misled, as indeed we have been.”

Shadow schools secretary Ed Balls said he believed Essex CC was another authority that had wrongly been told its BSF projects were safe.

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