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With a general election looming next year and the government keen to progress its much-vaunted school rebuilding programme, the education sector is set to offer good opportunities for new construction contracts over the next 18 months.

Work is getting underway to tackle a shortage of secondary school places, particularly in big cities and after a slow start, the government’s plan to rebuild 500 schools over the next decade is gathering momentum.

An upturn in school building work is the main driver behind a 22% increase in new underlying education projects (less than £100 million in value) starting this year and a further 12% next year which are predicted in the latest Glenigan Construction Forecast 2023-25.

Need for new school places

The need for new capacity is highlighted by Department of Education figures showing the number of secondary school-age children is set to rise by 13% between 2018 and 2024, creating demand for an extra 381,000 school places.

Meanwhile, the government’s commitment to rebuild 500 schools over the next decade has been reinforced by a recent pledge of £1.8 billion of capital funding over 2023/24 to improve school buildings.

Construction contracts in the wider education sector should also flow from a government pledge to make a further £487 million available for councils to provide extra school places by September 2026. The final phase of the £1.5 billion further education capital transformation programme, to upgrade buildings and transform campuses at 146 colleges, should also bolster the work pipeline in the education sector.

New school projects provide the strongest opportunities for construction work in the short term. The latest Glenigan forecast predicts that the value of underlying school project starts will rise from around £2.75 billion last year to close to £3.4 billion this year and to around £4 billion by 2024. Beyond that, the sector may be impacted by a post-election review.

Areas where the population is growing appear to offer bright prospects for school building work. Using pro-rata figures, Glenigan sees the value of underlying education projects rising in the South East from just over £800 million in 2022 to approaching £1,300 million this year.

One project in the South East where detailed plans have been granted and tenders are due to be invited in July is a £2.8 million school extension at Bournes Green Junior School in Southend-on-Sea. Work is due to start later this year and run for 8 months (Project ID: 23024776).

The value of underlying education starts is also set to rise sharply in the East of England; up from just over £200 million in 2022 to over £500 million this year, using pro-rata figures.

Meanwhile, school building work in the major conurbations should see significant rises in underlying education starts in Yorkshire & the Humber (where they are set to rise to over £400 million this year, pro rata, from around £250 million in 2022) and the West Midlands (where they are on course to almost double to £400 million this year, pro rata).

Good source of new orders

School contracts are proving a good source of new orders for major national contractors. Earlier this year, Morgan Sindall highlighted a series of school project wins including a £63m redevelopment of King Henry VIII Secondary School in Abergavenny (pictured), where work is set to run until next August (Project ID: 21235850).

Artist impression of the new King Henry VIII Secondary School in Abergavenny which is part of the governments school rebuilding programme

Wilmott Dixon, another major player in the school building sector, has recently been appointed main contractor on a new £15 million special education needs school at Walton-on-Thames in Surrey where work is due to start early in 2024 (Project ID: 23203934).

Glenigan data provides details on numerous other smaller school building projects, many valued at under £250,000, where work is due to get underway in the coming months.

Glenigan customers can see details of all new education projects if covered by your subscription.
Not a Glenigan customer, but would like to see detailed sales leads for new education projects? Request a free demo of Glenigan today so we can show the size of the opportunity for your business.

Not a Glenigan Customer?

Request a free demo of Glenigan today so we can show the size of the opportunity for your business.