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Schools procurement chief to retire

Schools procurement chief Peter Lauener is to retire following a merger of two key bodies, the government has announced.

Mr Lauener, currently chief executive of both the Education Funding Agency and the Skills Funding Agency, will become head of the merged body but only until a successor is found.

Education secretary Justine Greening revealed the merger plans yesterday, saying the Education and Skills Funding Agency would operate from next month, sitting within the Department for Education.

It will be responsible for managing school building programmes – including delivery of the 110 new free schools promised in this month’s Budget – alongside other education, training and apprenticeship duties.

Ms Greening said: “Creating the Education and Skills Funding Agency will mean we are able to provide a more joined-up approach to funding and regulation of schools, colleges and other providers, with improved accountability and better service.”

The government also officially launched public property company LocatED, which was set up last year to purchase and develop sites for 500 new free schools by 2020.

Schools systems minister Lord Nash said: “We need to secure hundreds of new free schools in order to keep pace in creating 600,000 new school places by 2021.

“LocatED has the skills and expertise to find and secure land and buildings to ensure our free schools ambition becomes a reality.”

A report from the National Audit Office last month found that the Department for Education paid an average of 19 per cent more than official land valuations for free school sites from 2010 to 2015.

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