THE UK on Friday(5) launched the first phase of the prime minister’s ten-year school rebuilding programme to level up opportunities for all.
Under the project, 50 schools, concentrated in the North and Midlands, will benefit from new, modern, energy efficient buildings, a statement said.
Projects will range from replacing or refurbishing individual buildings through to whole school rebuilds. The schools include primary, secondary and specials as well as a sixth form college in West Yorkshire.
The programme will be supported by £1billion in funding and mark the start of the School Rebuilding Programme, which will deliver 500 rebuilding projects over the next decade.
The initial rebuilds and refurbishments will create modern education environments, providing new facilities from classrooms and science labs, to sports halls and dining rooms. The schools will also be greener, helping meet the government’s net zero target.
Over 15,500 children will also benefit from 21 new free schools, with ten opening in some of the most deprived areas. Three are in opportunity areas, where the department works to remove barriers that could stop young people from achieving their potential.
According to a statement, more than £10 million will also be invested to support school sports and swimming facilities in England, and will be distributed through Sport England. This will help schools open their facilities outside of school hours, and encourage pupils to be more physically active.
“Today we are launching the first phase of our ambitious new schools programme, with 50 rebuilds and 21 new free schools. The rebuilding projects are just the start of our major ten-year programme, transforming hundreds of schools and improving the education of tens of thousands of children. Alongside this, over 15,500 children will now benefit from 21 new free schools across the country as we look to build back better after the pandemic,” said education secretary Gavin Williamson.
Unity Howard, director of new schools network said: “Free schools have an incredible track record of driving up standards, and we have seen over the past decade just how popular free schools are with parents.
“The groups planning these new free schools should be proud today; the free school application process is demanding, and this year they have dealt with additional uncertainties owing to the pandemic. ”
The construction will begin on the first projects from autumn 2021, and the majority of the first 50 rebuild projects under the programme are expected to be completed within three to five years.
Alison Rigby, Headteacher of St John Fisher Catholic High School, Wigan said: “It is great that our school has been identified for this investment – we have a unique sporting heritage – we have produced international Rugby league, Rugby Union and Netball players and athletes – despite our modest sporting facilities.
“This new build project will boost our curriculum offer and provide fantastic facilities in which our learning community will continue to flourish, and, most importantly, build confidence in our young people because they will feel valued and invested in and – ultimately, loved.”
According to a statement, schools in disadvantaged areas, or areas with high inactivity among children, will also be given the opportunity to bid for funding.
The funding will also support facilities to improve accessibility, especially for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities, including buying adaptive sports equipment, like sensory balls for the visually impaired or wheelchair-accessible equipment.