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School renewal projects present a positive future

The Government’s £45 billion Building Schools for the Future programme offers protection from the downturn

As the financial downturn continues, those who are not involved in public sector work must be wishing they were.

This is especially true of the Government’s 15-year, £45 billon Building Schools for the Future programme which is creating a steady stream of work throughout England to rebuild and renew secondary schools.

The programme already represents the lion’s share of work in the education sector. Last year clients put well over £4 billion into education-related construction. And with the recent BSF consultation that, it is hoped, will bring more councils’ plans forward early and streamline cost and procurement times – a further bonanza over the next two years is likely.

But after this things could be less certain. Although there is little doubt the work on schools needs to be done, industry sources suspect that the Government could pull BSF funding in the light of increasing financial pressures, especially if Labour loses power.

But Helen Grubham, projection editor at Glenigan and contributor to Glenigan’s Definitive Guide to PFI Education, said: “The future of the BSF programme is stable, even with the looming credit crunch, as the Government realises the importance of maintaining and developing the educational system.

“BSF has revolutionised our way of teaching and learning over the last 10 years and it will continue to flourish even further over the next decade.”

Meanwhile, according to the Glenigan report, contractors are making hay while the sun continues to shine in education.

In the last financial year Balfour Beatty won most of the education work, regaining its top position from Kier, which took the most work the year previously.

Kent County Council has been by far the biggest spender – last year putting out just over a billion pounds on 17 projects, making up just under a quarter of the combined £4.78 billion the top clients spent last year on upgrading their schools.

Buro Happold topped the list as the most popular structural consultant, with total contracts valued at £568,000 during 2007/08, with Arup and Faber Maunsell coming second and third.

Arup topped Buro Happold in the M&E consultancy table, coming first for the financial year with £742,200 contracts awards.

Buro Happold came second and Hoare Lea and Partners third.

Turner & Townsend was by far the biggest winner in terms of quantity surveyors, retaining the top spot as it has for the last five years, with a massive £1.7 million of contracts won in 2007/08. The QS started work on 96 projects during the period compared with 62 in 2005.

It is anticipated that over 30 BSF schools will open in 2008. But a fair amount of money is also being spent on education buildings that do not come under the BSF banner such as nursery schools, colleges and universities.

Most contracts awarded in the last financial year have been in the South-east – 1,198 in 2007/08 – but a significant number have also been awarded in Scotland.

For more details on the report go to www.glenigan.com/products/definitiveguidetopfieducation.asp. To buy the guide call 0800 093 7772

To download PDFs of the top 10 educational clients and top 10 structural consultants click on the resource box on the right hand side of the page