Education secretary Michael Gove has scrapped all Building Schools for the Future projects that have not reached financial close.
He said he would also look at the 14 schemes where a preferred bidder has been selected, to see whether the sample schools should go ahead.
A total of 715 schools will no longer be rebuilt or refurbished through BSF, of which nearly 180 schools were projected to be new build, 319 to be remodelled or refurbished, 63 to be ICT-only and 153 had unconfirmed plans.
Mr Gove launched a review of all capital investment in schools, early years education, colleges and sixth forms to guide future spending decisions over the next Spending Review period.
Mr Gove said: “BSF has been responsible for a third of this department’s spending. It has been characterised by cost overruns, tragic delays, bothed construction jobs and needless beauracracy.”
Since the coalition government was elected, contractors have been expecting cuts to the £55 billion programme to rebuild or refurbish every state secondary school in England by 2023. But the decision to freeze so many projects - including several that are at shortlist stage after a year or more of bidding activity - will still come as a shock.
Shadow secretary Ed Balls said it was a “black day” for the country’s schools.