New schools will be built and essential refurbishment work carried out despite a raft of projects funded by the last government’s school building programme being axed, education secretary Michael Gove has told councils.
Mr Gove, who has faced calls to resign following his department issuing an error-riddled list of Building Schools for the Future (BSF) projects which face being cut, said he wanted a radical shake-up of the way capital was allocated for school projects.
He also used his address to the Local Government Association annual conference to make more apologies to those impacted. Mr Gove said: “I apologise to you…for the confusion that arose following my statement about Building Schools for the Future.
He added: “I also want to stress that the end of this method of allocating capital does not mean for any of you the end of new school building.
“My department will work with you to identify how we can allocate capital more quickly and fairly in the future. I have asked an experienced local authority chief executive [Barry Quirk] to help us and our thinking will be shaped by your needs.
“I believe the old BSF way shuts out local communities. It was insufficiently respectful of the expertise that you have and wasteful of the limited resources that you have.”
Mr Gove’s apologies following the suspension of projects in 715 schools are unlikely to draw a line under the affair with reports of coalition MPs fury and effected councils claiming the process was unfair.
An open letter to Mr Gove from Sandwell MBC chief executive Allison Fraser and leader Darren Cooper (Lab) said: “Sandwell is determined to understand why it has been singled out, given that nine of the ten ‘stopped’ projects on the revised government list are within Sandwell. This will have a devastating effect on the regeneration of Sandwell. We are determined to continue to challenge the decision and fight for future generations in Sandwell.
“We would welcome a personal visit from you to look around Sandwell and view for yourself the impact of this decision. We would seriously ask you to review the decision.”