Brighton schools released from ‘disaster’ PFI deal

Posted On 23 Mar 2010 at 9:25 am

Three Brighton secondary schools will take back responsibility for managing their own buildings after eight years of a PFI deal dubbed a “disaster” by headteachers.

Dorothy Stringer, Patcham High and Varndean will retake control of “soft services” including catering, grounds maintenance and cleaning in April.

The move comes after Brighton and Hove City Council brokered a deal with PFI contractor Brighton and Hove City Schools Services (BHCSS).

The headteachers of each of the schools had complained of a string of problems getting maintenance problems dealt with since the 25-year contract was set up in 2002.

It was labelled a “disaster” by former Varndean head Andy Schofield.

Under the terms of the PFI (private finance initiative) scheme BHCSS’s contractors Jarvis built new facilities at each school and took responsibility for managing and maintaining them in exchange for monthly fees.

The PFI (private finance initiative) scheme was intended to free the headteachers and teaching staff to focus on education rather than concerns about facilities.

Heads complained the opposite had become the case because of the problems that they experienced.

The deal is the subject of a report to a special Children and Young People’s cabinet member meeting on Monday 22 March.

The council said that the deal for the school to take back soft services had been reached because Jarvis had asked for a review.

It said that the deal was not reached because of poor standards – although it pointed out that quality “remains a significant concern”.

Under the terms of the contract Jarvis will continue to provide building maintenance services.

Patcham library, community centre, youth centre and junior school were also involved in the PFI contract and will take back control of their soft services. 

The council’s report is available here.

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