CHEAPER “flat-pack” schools – with much smaller classrooms – will be offered to headteachers whose rebuilding schemes were axed, it was revealed yesterday.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said the designs, to be built off-site, would offer value for money – unlike Labour’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.
Now a review team is expected to propose the idea as the solution for many of the hundreds of secondary schools that lost promised BSF money last year.
They included 79 projects across the North-East.
Annual funding for school repairs across the region has also been cut from £177m to £98m, with a warning that it is unlikely to rise before 2015.
That has forced the review to turn to the “flat-pack” option.
Heads and governing bodies who win approval for new schools will have to choose from approved templates, both for the structure and internal fittings and fixtures.
According to one report, classrooms will be about 15 per cent smaller than standard, with halls, dining rooms, sports facilities and staff rooms also expected to shrink.
Yesterday, Mr Gove did not dispute the suggestion that areas which lost BSF money would be offered “flat-pack” schools. Instead he said: “The last Government did not concentrate on getting value for money and it didn’t concentrate on having the highest possible design standards. We are reviewing how we can do both.”
Cash is also being diverted to privately-sponsored free schools, which Mr Gove said should be the first choice of councils planning to open a new school in their area.
A growing population means more schools are needed to meet demand.
Mr Gove suggested that his preference would be for these to be either an academy or free school, rather than local authority-run schools.
Academies and free schools are semi-independent state schools which receive funding direct from the Government.