A pioneering school in Doncaster has been hailed as leading the way in the Government’s countrywide school rebuilding programme.
The former Campsmount school building was destroyed in a large fire just before the Christmas holidays in 2009. The school serves the former mining communities of Norton, Campsall and Askern.
In 2011 its rebuild as a technology college, which is now an academy, was chosen as a pilot project for the James Review, which led to the recommendations being made to Government for its Priority School Building Programme, about how to build schools for less.
Campsmount was originally due to be rebuilt with funding through the previous Labour government’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme but, in July 2010, Education Secretary Michael Gove announced that all projects under the scheme that had not reached “financial close” would be scrapped.
This meant that all BSF projects in Doncaster would no longer receive funding and, even after Doncaster Council removed Campsmount Technology College from its list of schools included in the BSF project, it was still told there was no money available for the rebuilding to take place.
Only following a visit from a Department for Education representative was it announced some two months later that funding would be made available after all.
According to Ministers school buildings are now being built for about a third less, saving the taxpayer millions of pounds.
A total of 260 schools in the worst condition across England – including 36 in Yorkshire – are being refurbished or rebuilt through the Government’s £2.4bn PSBP programme.
The Department for Education said that the average cost of rebuilding a secondary school through PSBP is about £15m, with each one saving around £5m of taxpayers’ cash.
The time for building work to begin on a project has been cut from three years, on average under the old scheme, to around one year the DfE added.
Official figures suggest the Government expects to see about a £7bn boost to the economy from PSBP, a calculation which the DfE said is based on projections which show that every pound spent on construction projects generates around £3 of economic activity.
The scheme is also creating jobs, with the 260 building projects employing around 39,000 workers over a projects lifetime, with regional development and opportunities for local small and medium enterprises to be sub-contracted work, the Government said.
Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, said: “Investing in the PSBP is not only delivering great new schools that will help prepare thousands of young people for life in modern Britain, but it is also a key part of our long-term economic plan to secure a stronger economy, creating jobs and security for hard-working people.”
She added: “We are also making sure each school is built efficiently so that we get value for money for the taxpayer while delivering excellent schools for pupils and teachers.”
The Government has now announced a second phase of the scheme, worth about £2bn, and applications are currently being considered.