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21st Century Schools Programme Lays Strong Foundations for the Future (March 2010)

21st Century Schools Programme Lays Strong Foundations for the Future (March 2010)

Education Minister Leighton Andrews will today unveil joint plans between the Welsh Assembly Government and the WLGA to radically change the way school capital programmes are organised and funded in the future.

The Minister said:  “The new 21st Century Schools Programme will have a huge impact on school modernisation across Wales. Through this long term capital investment programme we are clearly demonstrating our commitment to deliver schools fit for the 21st century as part of the ‘One Wales’ agenda.”

Local Authorities will be encouraged to look at projects not on a case by case basis, but more widely to generate wide-ranging plans for investment in all of their schools, colleges and centres of learning.

Investment can then be prioritised over a number of years and on a more strategic basis aligned to Welsh Assembly Government priorities and policies such as the Foundation Phase, 14-19 Learning Pathways and the School Effectiveness Framework.

The ‘fit for purpose’ target will also be replaced with a new 21st Century Schools standard which will take account the need for local priorities and flexibility.

A high-level survey has been commissioned to establish a full and comprehensive picture of the conditions of school buildings in Wales which will be used to inform investment decisions.

Leighton Andrews said: “Between 2004 and 2008 we saw an unprecedented £667 million of Assembly Government money invested in school buildings in Wales - a great achievement.

“We must however move away from the ‘spread the butter thinly’ approach of the past, to more effective, strategic funding based on need.

“We’ve already started investing £216 million into school buildings this financial year using this more strategic approach.  A further programme of investment will be announced over the summer.”

“The 21st Century Schools initiative will be more than just a building programme. The challenge is to use the investment to raise standards, inspire both learners and teachers and be adaptable to meet the changing needs of learners in a rapidly developing economy.

“We are at the start of a long-term process and working in partnership with the WLGA we’ll lay strong foundations for Wales’ future.”

Cllr Peter Fox, WLGA Spokesperson for Lifelong Learning said:

“The unique collaboration between the Welsh Assembly Government and WLGA on the 21st Century Schools programme is the start of a long-term investment programme which is welcome and needed across the school estate in Wales.

“The WLGA is fully supportive as a partner in this new approach to school investment and will be supporting local authorities to plan ahead over the coming months.

“The programme will enable local authorities to deliver teaching and learning environments that will inspire both teachers and learners alike, meet new developments in education and technology, are sustainable, inclusive and a resource for the whole community.”