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CBI: BSF improving after shaky start

The Government’s £55 billion Building Schools for the Future programme is improving after a shaky start and is beginning to have a positive impact on pupils, a new report published by the CBI revealed today.

The business group says faith should be kept with the programme and its educational agenda maintained, in the face of recessionary pressures to cut costs and deliver new schools quickly.

The report says that where new BSF schools have been built, early indications are that they are helping improve results and having a positive impact on pupil behaviour, staff morale and environmental sustainability.

Latest figures show 86 schools have been built or refurbished under the programme, although concerns remain about the costs and time involved in getting projects started.

The National Audit Office estimates total set-up costs for a Local Education Partnership - the procurement vehicles for BSF schools - are £9 million to £10 million.

It says this could be reduced by around a third if Partnerships for Schools’ 30-month procurement guideline was adhered to.

The CBI said costs could be offset by making greater use of LEPs, for instance by procuring libraries, sports and leisure centre and support services through them.

CBI director of public services Susan Anderson said: “After a difficult first few years, the government’s flagship schools project has picked itself up, but there is still much to do if we are to ensure it has a lasting impact on our education system.

“People need to keep the faith with BSF as it has the potential to play a huge part in giving the country’s young people a better start in life.

“The private sector’s role in driving up quality and helping deliver more for less is critical, especially at a time of fiscal constraint.”