School building schemes which escaped the axe when hundreds were cancelled by Education Secretary Michael Gove are under threat again because of funding cuts, Labour has warned.
Shadow Education Secretary Andy Burnham visited the West Midlands to meet headteachers affected by a Government announcement that school building projects need to cut costs by 40 per cent.
And he said he planned to raise his concerns in the House of Commons next week - by asking Mr Gove for specific assurances that building schemes in Sandwell will go ahead.
Mr Gove announced he was cancelling 700 projects to rebuild or refurbish buildings under Labour’s Building Schools for the Future policy.
They included nine in Sandwell and 13 in Birmingham, as well as six in Walsall.
But he said 600 would go ahead. They include three in Sandwell, which will be known as Wednesbury Learning Campus, Tipton Learning Campus and Oldbury Learning Campus once the work is completed.
However, the Department for Education has since announced that contractors and councils will be expected to find savings averaging 40 per cent on existing education projects.
Mr Burnham said he was concerned that some schemes could still be under threat, because it wouldn’t always be possible to make such dramatic budget cuts.
Speaking during his visit to the Black Country, he said Mr Gove had failed to secure sufficient funding from the Treasury in the recent spending review.
Mr Burnham also accused the Government of diverting funding to new “free schools” which will be created and run by community groups, parents or the private sector.
He said: “Michael Gove got a terrible deal at the spending review, and the school building budget was cut by 60 per cent.
“Everyone accepts that there have to be reductions, but you have to ask how they can justify singling out schools in this way, especially given that Gove is determined to ensure what funding is available goes to the ‘free schools’ he wants to set up.”
He added: “It seems the Government is coming back to the schools they said were unaffected by the Building Schools for the Future cuts and saying they are not safe after all. It is adding insult to injury.”
Mr Burnham said he would ask for assurances about Sandwell schools in the Commons on Monday.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “The Secretary of State has been clear that school rebuilding will continue but that capital expenditure on schools must be more cost effective given the current financial climate.
“On 5 July when the Secretary of State made his announcements about the Building Schools for the Future programme, he made clear that where projects were being allowed to proceed, that we would be looking at the scope for savings.
“He has discussed this already with senior figures in the construction industry about how this best can be achieved and very much welcomes their positive response to date. Now that the spending review has been announced, we are in a position to move forward with this work.”