The multi-million pound contract for Blackburn with Darwen and Bolton’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme has been rubber stamped and finalised today.
The two councils, Balfour Beatty Education and Partnerships for Schools have signed the final documents to officially form a Local Education Partnership (LEP).
Balfour Beatty Education was appointed as preferred bidder for the Blackburn with Darwen and Bolton programme in October, and all partners have worked together to bring the financial close to fruition.
Together, they will now deliver the BSF programme, which will rebuild and remodel secondary schools in Blackburn, Darwen and Bolton.
In Blackburn with Darwen, nine schools will receive brand new or remodelled buildings by 2015, with construction work to start at Pleckgate High School in January. Seven schools will be transformed during the first phase of the BSF programme in Bolton.
The schools and their state-of-the-art facilities will not just be available to students and young people, but to the whole community, including leisure and learning, sports and ICT provision.
The programme will help to create hundreds of new jobs and apprenticeships, help to create sustained growth in the economy and future prosperity and help tackle local unemployment by developing a skills base within the area.
Balfour Beatty Education has pledged to target up to 60% of jobs on the school sites, in ICT and management, at local people and businesses.
Councillor Adia, Executive Member for Children’s Services at Bolton Council, said: “It is great to be working with Blackburn with Darwen and to have our relationship formalised by the official creation of the Local Education Partnership following financial close.
“By working together, we will be able to give the young people in both boroughs the very best facilities and programme of education, as well as provide fantastic opportunities for the surrounding communities.”
Councillor Chris Thayne, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s executive member for children’s services, said: “I am delighted our BSF programme has reached financial close and that we now have a Local Education Partnership with the shared expertise in education and construction between the schools, Council and private sector representatives.
“Together, this LEP will deliver these incredible plans and realise our vision of transforming education for generations of students in Blackburn with Darwen as well as for families and communities in the area.”
Tim Byles, Chief Executive of Partnerships for Schools, the government agency responsible for delivering the BSF programme, said: “This is excellent news for young people, teachers and the wider local communities in Blackburn with Darwen and Bolton.
“As one of only a handful of joint local education partnerships, reaching this milestone is a testament to the successes of the close partnership working between both councils so far. I look forward to charting the progress of these authorities as they work together to deliver 21st century schools for pupils, teachers and local communities.”
Balfour Beatty Chief Executive, Ian Tyler said: “We are delighted to have reached financial close on this project. We look forward to utilising our previous experience, having already worked on eight major UK PPP education projects, to create new, first-class, learning environments as well as facilities that will be available to the whole community including leisure, learning, sports and ICT provision.”