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It was announced in May which of the 587 schools that applied to be rebuilt or refurbished under the Priority Schools programme will share the £2.4bn fund. Though many schools have missed out, the mainly privately financed programme will provide a welcome boost to industry activity over the next year. 

Following the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme in England it was clear that many of the schools which were slated to be replaced, only to see funding removed, would require a good deal of refurbishment and extension work.  Indeed, 39% of headteachers told the Observer that they believed their school buildings were not fit for purpose. Overcrowding, leaks and poor ventilation were among the main concerns. 

With government funding for new schools also scarce in Scotland, Glenigan have anticipated a greater shift towards spending on refurbishment around the UK. 

The Priority Schools programme is now the main instrument of that shift in focus. The £2bn scheme will be funded via the PFI route, meaning that the initial cost to the government (and affect on its balance sheet) is lower. Out of the 587 schools which applied for the scheme, 261 have been chosen to receive funds. 

There is a select group of 42 schools which the government has chosen to be prioritised, with these more imminent projects to receive £400m which has been found ‘efficiency savings’ by the government.  

Glenigan analysis has shown while the total value of new school project starts fell by 14% over 2011, there was a 25% increase in extension and refurbishment works. This divergence within the sector will to continue this year, and contractors will have to adapt to this shift in focus. As the value of new builds decline, refurbishment will become an even greater priority as existing assets are sweated.

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