A £1.2 billion transformation of all Birmingham secondary schools has hit a stumbling block after the city council abandoned plans to announce the winning contractor for the huge scheme.
Officials also cancelled a press briefing at which one of two firms left in the running for rebuilding or revamping all 89 of the city’s secondary schools over the next 15 years was to have been named.
The decision followed a last minute decision to remove the matter from the agenda of Monday's council cabinet meeting.
In a statement, the council said: “We were hopeful of concluding the evaluation process and recommending the appointment of a preferred bidder. We have been unable to do so as there are a number of outstanding clarifications with the bidders.
“It is anticipated that a preferred bidder report will be presented to Cabinet on January 12 and a press conference held the following day.”
The project represents the biggest redevelopment of schools in the whole country under the Government’s Building Schools for the Future programme, due to Birmingham’s status as the largest education authority in England.
A total of 60 organisations originally expressed interest, but that has gradually been reduced to just two bidders. They are Catalyst Education (Birmingham) Ltd, which is led by Catalyst Lend Lease and Bovis Lend Lease Ltd, and Land Securities Trillium.
Due to the vast number of schools involved in Birmingham, the developments will take place over six phases.
The city has secured £140m from the Government to redevelop the ten sites within Phase One, with transformation already underway in the first four sample schools - Broadway in Perry Barr, Holte in Lozells, Mayfield special in Handsworth and Stockland Green.
The sample schools are involved in design, curriculum and ICT consultations to produce a model of what they would like their new or refurbished schools to look like. The models will reflect individual school needs and embrace 21st century learning.
The redevelopment of Holte School will mean Mayfield’s secondary pupils will move to the site.
A city council spokesman said: “The BSF programme is more than just new buildings, it includes changes to the way the curriculum is taught.
“Birmingham City Council has been looking for a group of businesses to work together to not only build or refurbish all the city’s secondary schools but to help transform teaching and learning.”
The Government announced in October that its flagship building programme had been hit by delays, with work on the first phase of Birmingham’s schools not due for completion until September 2011 - a year later than expected.
* Meanwhile, the BSF programme in Worcestershire has also moved a step closer with a meeting to decide how it will transform Wyre Forest schools.
The County Council was one of eight local authorities to be invited to join the BSF programme in June this year following a successful fast-track bid.
Baxter College, King Charles I, Stourport High and Wolverley High are the schools that will be rebuilt as part of the project. It is also proposed that Bewdley High School will be extended, refurbished and modernised and a new-build 3-19 special school will also be built.
A draft version of the programe document is set to be presented to the county council’s Cabinet this Thursday. The £100m programme is due to see work start in late-summer 2011.