BSF 'could do better'

Several schools taking part in the Building Schools for the Future programme say they are not satisfied with the consultation process, according to an independent report.

The ‘Evaluation of Building Schools for the Future – Technical Report’ said 34% of head teachers surveyed revealed they were not satisfied their “expectations of the BSF project had been adequately listened to.” The report said 18% of respondents said the Department for Children, Schools and Families' (DCSF) BSF policy priorities had not been effectively communicated whilst 1% said the cluster structure of the programme led to delays.

The report, carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers, is the first instalment of a three-year study commissioned in 2005 by the DCSF, then the Department for Education. It surveyed 1,918 schools throughout the UK in a bid to measure the impact of BSF programme.

The report found that nine out of 10 head teachers believed the BSF programme would broaden the curriculum and 60% hoped it would improve behaviour and educational performance.

Whilst head teachers were not happy with the actual process they remain optimistic with 50% saying BSF was inspirational but realistic, whilst 67% said the BSF strategy was “educationally transformational.”

Jim Knight, minister for schools, said: “The report reflects the experiences of head teachers in the early stages of BSF – and it says it is too early to provide sufficient evidence about the overall effectiveness of the programme and findings are preliminary.

“We have taken clear action in the last year to engage schools in the programme as early as possible – including bringing expert advice for schools, through outside experts like the Sorrell Foundation and CABE, and introducing full training programmes for headteachers and senior staff to get the most out of these projects.”

Tim Byles, chief executive of Partnership for Schools, added: “As with any project of this scale, we are continually learning lessons and refining our processes. This first evaluation will help us in this, and we look forward to seeing the result of future research into the effectiveness of the BSF programme.”