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Our children: time to talk Prime Minister and Ed Balls launch national children's debate at first ever BSF school

Our children: time to talk Prime Minister and Ed Balls launch national children's debate at first ever BSF school

DEPARTMENT FOR CHILDREN, SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES News Release (2007/0157) issued by The Government News Network on 6 September 2007

£21 billion to rebuild 21st century schools

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls today confirmed a £21 billion cash injection over the next three years to build new schools, and launched a national debate about how children's services could be improved during the next ten years.

Mr Brown and Mr Balls kick-started the national discussion - Time to talk - at the official opening of the brand new Bristol Brunel Academy, the first of 180 new or newly refurbished schools that will open during the next six months. The debate, attended by more than 50 parents, teachers, children and social care professionals was the first in a series of public events and consultation exercises that will take place during the next two months.

The views and experiences of people feeding into the debate will help shape the Government's 'Children's Plan' - which will set out how, over the next decade, the Government, parents, the voluntary sector and schools can work together better to ensure that every child gets the best start in life, and the support they need to fulfill their potential, be happy, healthy and safe.

Ed Balls said:

"I want to give every young person the best start in life and help them make the most of their talents - from nursery school upwards. Bristol Brunel Academy has cutting edge facilities and is an excellent example of what can be achieved when government investment and local enthusiasm are brought together.

"But there are new challenges facing Britain and 21st century families. The Prime Minister and I want a debate about what more we can do to help children. We want to tap directly into the experience and expertise of the children, young people, parents and professionals who work with them to find what the big issues are that need addressing.

"We have made huge strides over the last decade to improve services both in and out of schools for young people and parents. But now is the time to listen to people about what we can do better to help children achieve the best education, have a happy, healthy and safe childhood and prevent young people going off the rails and getting into trouble."

Ed Balls also confirmed a sustained schools capital investment of £21 billion across England over the next three years which builds on the £30 billion invested in the last decade. This is made up of £6.669 billion in 2008-09, £7.024 billion in 2009-10 and rising to £8.035 billion a year by 2010-11. The local authority capital allocations for 2008-11 will be announced later this month.

He added:

"We have invested unprecedented amounts in school facilities in the last decade to motivate young people and teachers, equip them with world-class facilities and sweep away the legacy of crumbling buildings.

"Today is a watershed in bringing all secondary schools into the twenty-first century and Bristol Brunel Academy sets the standard for future generations. The pioneering design, outstanding ICT resources and first class sports facilities will together create the perfect learning environment and inspire young minds.

"And we are determined to go much further across the rest of the schools sector. By 2011, annual capital investment will have risen seven-fold since 1997 to address the historic under-investment in facilities and add to the 1100 new schools built in the last decade. Our teachers and pupils deserve no less."

The £24 million Brunel Academy is the first to be completed under the once-in-a-generation Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme - one of 180 newly built or rebuilt schools to open this school year, on top of 1,100 new schools and 27,000 new or improved classrooms since 1997.

The 1,080-pupil Bristol Brunel Academy will specialise in communications and combines cutting-edge design, top ICT resources and world-class teaching, sport and leisure facilities.

Notes to Editors

The Children's Plan consultation is published at

Time to talk is asking the following questions:

* What's the best experience you've had of support for you and your family?

* Which bits of the support from others that you and your family get would you improve, and how? Is there anything that you would stop?

* How can we make sure that the support you get from others is what you need the most?

* What is the job for your parents or carers when it comes to supporting you? What help do they need to do it?

* What is your local community's job when it comes to supporting you? Should they be doing anything else?

* What is the government's job when it comes to supporting you? Should they be doing anything else?

* How can we keep children and young people out of trouble?

* What more could be done to keep you happy, healthy and safe?

In addition to the public consultation there will be three expert groups chaired by Children, Schools and Families Ministers. Jo Davison, Director of Children's Services in Gloucester will co-chair the group that will look at all services for 0-7 year olds with Beverley Hughes. Sir Alan Steer, head of Seven Kings High School in Ilford will co-chair the group on 8-13 year olds with Kevin Brennan, Lord Adonis and Jackie Fisher, chief executive and principal of Newcastle College will co-chair the 14-19 group with Jim Knight.

Bristol Brunel Academy replaces Speedwell Technology College. It has 1,080 pupils aged 11-16, with 100 pupils in the sixth form and will specialise in communications. Bristol Brunel Academy has replaced Speedwell Technology College and its educational sponsor is John Cabot Academy. David Carter, the Principal of John Cabot Academy will act as Executive Principal to both John Cabot and Bristol Brunel. The new principal of Bristol Brunel Academy, Armando di Finizio, was formerly Vice Principal at The City Academy, Bristol.

Bristol Brunel's main school building has been designed by William Eyre Architects around a spacious mall, with areas where students can use ICT for work and wide meeting areas instead of old-style narrow corridors. The open, innovative design means staff can more easily supervise young people, which will cut bad behaviour and give students greater responsibility for their own actions.

Bristol Brunel Academy is one of 12 schools opening in the next few months under Building Schools for the Future. By 2010-11 this will have increased to around 200 BSF schools opening every year for the duration of the programme.

The project is part of Bristol's £119 million first wave of BSF investment and will see four secondary schools rebuilt. Future waves of investment will cover a further five secondary school projects. The schools in BSF wave 1 in Bristol will open as follows. Bristol Brunel Academy ( September 2007); Whitefield Fishponds School ( April 2008) Brislington Enterprise College (September 2008) Harcliffe Technology College ( January 2009).
Total capital spending has risen from under £700million a year to £6.4billion this year - and growing to £8billion by 2010-11. Over £6billion was set aside specifically for the Building Schools for the Future programme between 2005-06 and 2007-08.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families will announce the outcomes of the Comprehensive Spending Review including capital allocations for local authorities later this month.

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