Sir Robert McAlpine has won a deal worth around £60 million to build the first priority schools to be procured through the academies framework.
The contractor has beaten Bam Construct to the contract to build schools in Durham, East Riding, Gateshead, Sheffield, Stockton and Sunderland.
Bam Construct is still vying for the Midlands batch of schools with Wates.
The Midlands batch is for a total value of around £32m to £36m and will comprise four primary schools, one secondary and one special school.
Around £400m in schools work will be procured through the academies framework.
Education Funding Agency director of capital Mike Green confirmed this month that the privately financed £2bn schools programme will come to the market in the spring.