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PFI and academies framework to support new priority schools

The first five batches of priority schools to come to market will include two tranches procured through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Construction News reports how these will come from the main £2 billion Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP) and are not among the 42 schools identified as in "greatest need" through the academies framework. The other three tranches will come from this structure, which has been allocated £400 million of capital funding for repairs. An Education Funding Agency (EFA) spokesperson said: "Our intention is that schools will be grouped together to form batches to make attractive projects for bidders to encourage competition and value for money, and we will announce which schools are in which batch in due course." The industry is said to have expected the £400 million grant programme to be rolled out first, as the capital is already available and the academies framework has been described as a quick procurement route. Contact has already been made by the EFA with the first 42 schools to go to market, as it prepares to start development ahead of procurement. It is also said to be holding talks with education institutions procured under the PFI model. Last month, the Department for Education announced that 261 of the 587 repair funding applicants will have their "condition needs met" under the PSBP. Meanwhile, the remaining 221 would be split in to two batches under the PFI programme. It was suggested contractors including Laing O'Rourke and Skanska will welcome news of the division of the first five batches of schools. Both companies were said to be "fuming" after the work was set to go through the academies framework, as neither organisation is qualified for this programme. Elsewhere, Vinci Construction UK recently handed over the new £7.3 million transformation of Four Oaks Primary School to Liverpool City Council. 

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