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Wednesfield schools only facing minor BSF cuts

Wolverhampton City Council have announced the outcome of high-level discussions over the Building Schools for the Future programme.

BSF budget cuts reduced from a possible 40% to 13%

Wolverhampton City Council have announced the outcome of high-level discussions with the Department for Education over the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

The council was facing a possible 40% budget cut to the programme which is set to transform 25 secondary schools across the city – these cuts would have had a direct affect on the extensive building work due to take place at Wednesfield High School and Coppice Performing Arts School in Wednesfield.

The initial budget for Wolverhampton’s BSF programme was approximately £300m but the city council was later asked to propose a number of efficiency savings to help bring down the overall costs.

Savings of £34.8m have now been agreed between the council and Partnerships for Schools with the aim being to save money without reducing the benefits of the BSF programme to schools. This 13% cut from the original budget is much less than the 40% which had been feared.

Tim Westwood, Wolverhampton City Council’s Chief Children’s Services Officer for Building Schools for the Future, said that it meant the programme would still go ahead and dramatically transform secondary education provision in the city’s schools.

Mr Westwood said: “Whilst any reduction in funding for the city is disappointing, we are satisfied with the outcome of our negotiations with the Department for Education via Partnerships for Schools and believe this is the best settlement for Wolverhampton given the circumstances.”

Minimal savings required for Wednesfield High and Coppice

Savings are being made by varying materials and building specifications, controlling building costs, focusing on undertaking minor rather than major refurbishments where appropriate and re-examining the need for new buildings in some instances.

The next group of schools to undergo work (which include Wednesfield High and Coppice) will only be required to make minimal savings. These schools have already been granted planning permission and construction work will begin in early spring 2011.

Councillor Phil Page, Wolverhampton City Council’s Cabinet Member for Schools, added: “We can now proceed with the programme safe in the knowledge that funding is secured.

“The council is committed to delivering the kind of transformation in secondary schools we always envisaged and we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that this is still a massive financial investment in education, skills and the local economy in Wolverhampton.

“Given the economic challenges which the country is facing, this is a good result for all young people and the city as a whole.”

The BSF programme will lead to the complete rebuilding or substantial refurbishment of 25 secondary schools, including two new academies, in five phases between now and 2014.

Source: Wolverhampton City Council

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