‘Groundhog Day’ for school designs

2 October 2012 The education department’s new ‘baseline’ designs for Priority School Building Programme schools have been revealed – but will not be compulsory for contractors.
Secondary schools will be 15% smaller and primary schools 5% smaller than the average building constructed under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme as the government seeks to cut the cost of school building.

Although teaching space and classrooms will stay the same size, there will be a “reduction in wasted space”, according to the agency – meaning atriums and communal areas such as assembly halls and canteens will be squeezed.

The agency claims the reductions will help reduce the cost of new schools by 30%, saving up to £6m per school.

Under the plans, separate wings can be designed and then ‘bolted on’ to a central area, allowing for some freedom in the configuration of each school.

However, the fact that the designs are not compulsory has led to some critics warning the approach could be a repeat of to BSF’s exemplar designs, which were used only sparsely on projects as schemes became increasingly bespoke.

“It is history repeating,” said one financial adviser. “It’s Groundhog Day.”

But Education Funding Agency chief executive Mike Green said the designs would show contractors the government’s direction of travel in its efforts to deliver efficient schools construction, while promoting innovation.

“We are just interested in efficient schools. We’re not trying to restrict things.” He also suggested that any designs will be considered provided they meet the baseline environment and cost requirements.

To see the new plans in detail, click here.

This page was last updated on:
13 September 2014.

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