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£4 billion for academies signals more work for contractors

A £4 billion plan is now out to tender to get academies designed and built in local authorities, not yet involved in the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.
With more than 127 academies currently part of BSF and 100 more in the pipeline, the new framework will give UK contractors and suppliers the chance to get work, with opportunities existing for up to 24 main providers and their supply chains.

Tim Byles, chief executive of Partnerships for Schools, said: 'The new Contractors' Framework offers a great opportunity for all sectors of the construction industry, particularly at a time when conditions are undeniably tough'.

The new Contractors' Framework offers opportunities to contractors with a track record of delivering secondary schools or similar projects. It enables smaller regional bidders as well as larger national firms to get involved.

While procured on a national basis the Contractors' Framework will have two geographical areas:

1) North West, North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, East Midlands and West Midlands;

2) East of England, South West, South East and London.

Up to 12 contractors will be appointed for each of the two areas, with bidders able to express an interest in one or both. The successful contractors and their supply chains are expected to be in place and bidding for work from November/December 2009 onwards.

A notice for the procurement of the Contractors' Framework was published by the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) earlier this month and released to the market last week. A copy of the OJEU notice is available for potential bidders and can be found on the PfS website here

Tim Byles added: 'As the current Academies Framework nears its £2 billion OJEU [Official Journal of the European Union] limit much sooner than originally anticipated, we are starting the new procurement exercise to secure the future work stream, maintaining the focus on streamlined and accelerated delivery of new academy schools'.

The current academies framework (launched January 2007) will operate until January 2011. The new framework will operate alongside this. The Academies Programme aims to establish 400 Academies in England. These publicly-funded independent schools, for pupils of all abilities, have the flexibility to be innovative in their curriculum, staffing and governance and to work in different ways to traditional local authority schools. The first academies to be delivered through BSF are due to open in 2009.

This month, the government also published a preliminary prioritisation list for BSF, based on revised expressions of interest which authorities with projects in Waves 7 to 15 submitted last November.
16 March 2009

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