MORE than a billion pounds in capital funding to improve Wales’ school buildings – and drag up standards at the same time – has been announced by Welsh Government.

The 21st Century Schools programme, worth £1.4 billion in capital investment, was first mooted in 2010 when all Welsh councils had to submit a business case outlining their bids.

School improvement schemes which were ready to go could get funding, explained a spokesman for the Welsh Government’s education department, but the official launch of the programme was today.

Torfaen council was one of the first in Wales to make public its plans to change school sites across the county.

The programme is a collaboration between Welsh Government, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and councils, and aims to transform students’ experiences of school by ensuring they are taught in classrooms with the technology and facilities needed to deliver a 21st-century curriculum.

The latest funding will be handed out during the next five years but it is anticipated that there will be more application periods in the future.

It is not yet known where in Gwent will benefit from a share of the initial funding, which will be allocated to projects up to 2018/19.

First minister Carwyn Jones said the money will build and refurbish more than 150 schools and colleges in Wales, so teachers, students and the community “have the modern facilities they deserve”.

Education minister Huw Lewis said he wants students to be confident in their abilities and have belief in what they can achieve, regardless of their background and where they live.

“The 21st Century Schools programme is more than just a building programme,” he said.

“Working with local authorities, the programme looks at the long-term aims for the community to create a solution which I hope will not only improve pupils’ educational experience but raise standards all across Wales.”