Non-priority schools struggle for cash
Questions also remain over what the impact will be of the government’s school estate condition surveys, which are designed to map the condition of every school in England. Industry sources suggest that if those surveys highlight schools in dire need that are not included in the Priority Schools programme, the government will be forced to invest in them.
Many councils are preferring to concentrate on their schools that did receive some cash, because trying to arrange finance for those that did not is proving to be too difficult.
“Councils haven’t got many options,” warned Stephen Beechey, head of education at contractor Wates. “Unless they get capital funding from another route, they have not got the capacity to take the financing on any solution that we might offer.”
Few councils have any firm plans in place to tackle the problem. “We will continue to consider the cases for both schools as part of our normal processes of funding prioritisation for schools,” added a spokesperson for Norfolk County Council – a response typical of many authorities.
Where councils did not receive any funding, efforts are underway to explore all other options, such as selling off land to fund a deal.
Some are looking at the potential of establishing free schools – however Beechey warned there is only a relatively small amount of money available through the free school route.
For more on this subject see the latest issue of Partnerships Bulletin.