23 August 2007
Product selection in the £45 billion Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme should be more limited, according to a new report.
The House of Commons Education and Skills Committee said there needed to be a balance between central prescription and local autonomy in the programme, which aims to replace or refurbish all 3,500 secondary schools in England by 2019.
The report said Partnerships for Schools - the BSF delivery body - had made progress on this, by, for example, providing guidance on matters such as the general principles for the design of toilet blocks. But the committee said this initiative must be extended across a range of procurement categories.
It added bespoke ICT systems for each school were unnecessary and referred to evidence that the procurement of ICT was not structured to take advantage of technological development.
The report asked the Department for Children, Schools and Families to respond to its criticism and to set out its plans for ensuring the development of technology was considered.
In response, children's minister Kevin Brennan said: "We have always been clear that we would develop and adapt the programme, so that's why we will continue to put in place a quicker, smarter and more efficient procurement and planning system to deliver projects on time and on budget."
He added ICT systems were flexible enough to respond to future changes in education practices.
A formal response will be issued in the autumn.