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https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2020/07/01/misleading-claims-made-by-the-tes/

Misleading claims made by the TES

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Yesterday the TES published a misleading article making inaccurate claims about the Department's transformative ten-year rebuilding programme announced this week.

On Monday the Prime Minister announced the first major school rebuilding programme to be launched since 2014. It will start in 2020-21, with the first 50 projects supported by over £1 billion in funding. Then future waves of projects will be supported by further funding to be agreed at the Spending Review.

Our announcement made clear that over £1 billion will be invested to fund the first 50 projects, which will be confirmed in the autumn, and construction on the first sites will begin from September 2021. It also set out that a further £560 million will be invested in school repairs and upgrades this year, and that this comes on top of over £1.4 billion in school condition funding already committed in 2020-21.

The TES article makes a number of misleading claims:

  • Firstly, it wrongly says that we had not been clear that the money will be spent from 2021. Our announcement made clear that construction on projects will commence from September 2021
  • It also incorrectly says that the first £1 billion will be spread out over “an unspecified number of future years”. We have been absolutely clear that the first £1 billion will be spent on the first 50 projects due to be identified this year with construction starting in September 2021. The project will be conducted in waves with funding for future waves to be confirmed through Spending Reviews, as is the normal process with projects like this
  • The story also suggests our capital budget was cut by £130 million and that this money was handed to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. This is also misleading. That money was transferred to MHCLG as our contribution to the Local Growth Fund to be spent on supporting our skills agenda.

The TES did not approach the Department before these inaccuracies were published.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

“On Monday we announced a ten-year school building programme, kick-started with over £1 billion to rebuild the first 50 schools.

“To suggest that we have cut with one hand while giving with another is completely false, as is the suggestion that we have hidden or obfuscated any details of our capital funding programmes.

“This year we are also providing an extra £560 million for school refurbishment, on top of more than £1.4 billion of school condition funding already committed in 2020-21. The £130 million is entirely separate and is the amount we allocate annually to MHCLG to support us in delivering against local skills and growth priorities.”

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