Boris Johnson is to announce a major spending blitz for schools in a bid to ensure that “every child gets a world-class education.”
The Prime Minister will lay the groundwork for a vast programme of building and repairs when he addresses the nation on his post-Covid vision in a speech on Tuesday.
Part of the plans will include a 10-year pledge to improve school and college facilities, with construction work set to start on the first 50 projects in September 2021, Downing Street said.
Speaking before a school visit planned for Monday, Mr Johnson, said: “All children deserve the best possible start in life – regardless of their background or where they live.”
He continued: “As we bounce back from the pandemic, it’s important we lay the foundations for a country where everyone has the opportunity to succeed, with our younger generations front and centre of this mission.
“This major new investment will make sure our schools and colleges are fit for the future, with better facilities and brand new buildings so that every child gets a world-class education.”
In addition to a £1 billion cash injection into next year’s construction projects, £560 million will go towards school repairs over the course of 2020.
Further education colleges will also see £200 million of the £1.5 billion promised by Chancellor Rishi Sunak during the Spring Budget.
This money will go towards fast-tracking work to transform college estates over the next five years.
Details of the programme, along with eligibility for funding, will be laid out in full at the next Spending Review, Number 10 confirmed.
Investment will be targeted at school buildings in the worst condition across England – including “substantial investment” in the north and the midlands.
The Government is aiming for the projects to use modern and green construction methods both to help meet the UK’s net zero emissions target by 2050 and also create highly skilled jobs in the construction sector.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Replacing and upgrading poor condition school and college buildings with modern, energy efficient designs will give our students and teachers the environment they deserve, and support them to maximise their potential.”
But Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Layla Moran called the PM’s announcement “spin over substance”.
“The funding is nowhere near the £7 billion the National Audit Office has said is needed to repair our schools,” said the MP.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Mr Johnson would have to ensure his building programme reversed a “lost decade” of stagnant investment in many parts of the country.
New analysis from the opposition party suggested that seven of England’s nine regions saw a reduction in public capital investment per person over the past 10 years since the Conservatives came to power.
In some parts of the country, including Yorkshire, East Midlands and the South West, investment per person is still less than half that seen in London, said Labour.
The party said all regions had seen a decrease in both health and education investment per person since David Cameron became prime minister in 2010.
Sir Keir said: “For much of the country, the Tories’ record on building and investment has been a lost decade.
“Our recovery from the coronavirus crisis needs to match the scale of the challenge.
“It must be built on solid foundations. It has to work for the whole country and end the deep injustices across the country.
“We are on the cusp of one of the biggest economic crises we have ever seen.
“The Government must immediately prioritise protecting people’s lives and livelihoods.
“That’s why Labour has called for a ‘back to work’ Budget that has a laser-like focus on one thing – jobs, jobs, jobs.”