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Contractors seeking work on the growing schools and universities building programme are set for another good year in 2024 as government spending on the education sector continues to rise.

After an increase of more than a fifth in the value of underlying education project starts this year, the new Glenigan Construction Forecast 2024-25 is predicting a further 13% rise in 2024, generating work worth some £5.82 billion.

The sector is benefitting from some generous increases in the Department of Education’s capital spending. Funding increased by 26% in 2022/23 and is set to grow by a further 19% in the current financial year, which should mean planned departmental capital spending of around £7.0 billion.

This in turn has translated into a 24% rise in school building projects this year – partly to meet the growing number of secondary school pupils – with a further 18% forecast for 2024.

Commitment to rebuilding schools

The Government’s commitment to rebuilding 500 schools over the next decade should sustain the medium-term work pipeline in the sector. Meanwhile, structural failures linked to the RAAC crisis will generate opportunities for contracts on the 174 schools identified as in need of remedial work.

Today, the education sector is providing a valuable source of work which is helping to keep the major contractors busy.

In August, Morgan Sindall highlighted various recent additions to its order book from the sector. These included a £41m retrofit and repurposing of Pen-Y-Dre High School, for Merthyr Tydfil Council; the £75m Clive Booth student accommodation village for Oxford Brookes and the £52m MIM Schools contract involving three new primary schools for the Welsh Government.

Another major player in the sector, Willmott Dixon, recently started work in September on the £9.3m Airfield Farm Primary School in Market Harborough which is one of Leicestershire County Council’s roll-out of a new generation of ‘net-zero carbon in operation’ schools (Project ID: 23025934).

Glenigan data highlights new work opportunities on contracts of varying sizes on education projects across the country. In Norfolk for example, detailed plans have been granted on the £11.5 million Wymondham Silfield School, a new 420-place primary school where a main contractor has yet to be appointed and work is due to start in the spring (Project ID: 22450932).

Upturn in further education starts

Further education construction starts have also benefitted from the upturn in spending in the sector, rising by around 22% this year. One project, where a main contractor is due to be appointed this month, and work is set to start in the new year, is the new £15.8 million Skegness TEC Campus (pictured), a further education college involving around 4,400 sq m of new space (Project ID: 22020524).

Meanwhile, the value of university project starts has started to edge higher – up 4% this year – after slipping back consistently over the past four years. Significant projects where applications to tender are currently being invited include a £20 million library refurbishment at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle where work is pencilled in to start next spring (Project ID: 23341320).

Glenigan customers can see details of all new education sector construction opportunities if covered by your subscription.

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