LEPs sidelined from Priority Schools

13 July 2012 Local education partnerships (LEPs) are being frozen out of the new Priority School Building Programme, Partnerships Bulletin has learned.
Despite being established in many areas with schools earmarked for Priority School investment, sources suggest the Department of Education is opposed to using the vehicles because of their association with the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme and the bureaucracy they created.

“The Treasury might be willing [to use LEPs], but the education department doesn’t want the LEPs to be involved at all,” said one contractor involved in LEPs.

Giles Frost, director at INPP, agreed that there are “different views in different places”, but suggested more people in government are coming round to the idea of using LEPs

INPP last year bought BSF Investments, which held the government’s shares in each LEP.

A spokesperson for the education department refused to confirm whether LEPs would be barred from the Priority Schools programme, but pointed out that the current initiative is being procured centrally, while the operational phase is also expected to include a centralised project management resource. Such a process may be at odds with a LEP, which involves its own set of advisers.

But those in the private sector argued that the LEPs could be used to get projects off the ground quickly and at a lower cost than if the schools have to be put out to tender.

“It’s a shame because every school we’ve done within a LEP has been quicker and cheaper than the last,” the contractor added.

For more on this debate, and the question of LEPs’ exclusivity for school projects, see the latest issue of Partnerships Bulletin.

This page was last updated on:
28 October 2014.

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