28 February 2024

Multi-million pound investment in Wiltshire schools

Wiltshire Council has agreed to invest £8m over the next four years to maintain its school buildings.

The funding is in addition to the government money the Department for Education provides. It underlines the council’s commitment to ensuring that schools are safe and inspirational places for learning.

At a cabinet meeting this week, council leaders agreed on the additional investment for all our maintained schools to ensure they provide bright learning environments for Wiltshire children and young people.

The council receives annual capital funding allocations from the Department for Education (DfE) for new places and school capital maintenance, which relates to urgent and essential structural works such as roofs, walling, windows, drainage, etc., in addition to plant electrical and mechanical works (heating/lighting etc..)

All other day-to-day maintenance works and low-level cost works are the schools’ responsibility, funded from their delegated or devolved funds.

Since 2020/21, the council has been funding an additional £1m per year to supplement the DfE grant for school maintenance. A bid to increase this to £3m per year from 2024/25 was agreed. This will help stem the decline of the school building stock and enable some of the historical backlog of works to be addressed.

In addition, since February 2020, the council has committed to £100k a year for over 10 years to support the admission of pupils with disabilities to schools.

This fund’s ramps, handrails, accessible toilets and similar works to mainstream schools to support inclusion. Wiltshire Council is also committed to replacing poor-condition mobiles and ‘prattens’ as part of its Business Plan. Council capital funding to replace these old blocks was secured last year.

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “We want our pupils to learn in bright classrooms and exciting learning environments where they can thrive and enjoy their school years. We have just committed to an additional £8m over four years so we can ensure our school buildings are well maintained and serve our pupils well. This agreed investment underlines our commitment to achieving this.”

The council secures, wherever possible, S106 developer contributions and seeks Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) planning obligations for essential school infrastructure in new housing development areas.

Two projects are being constructed at Porton St Nicholas Primary School and St Peter’s Primary CE Primary Academy in Salisbury. Feasibility work is commencing on the expansion of Sarum Academy.

In February 2023, 33 planned maintenance projects were approved by Cabinet, and these are now largely complete.

A contingency is also held to address emergency reactive works required during the year to keep schools safe and open.

Altogether, over 50 projects costing over £5k each have been completed since 1 April 2023.

Written by
Andy Munns
View all articles
Written by Andy Munns