Bricks and Mortarboards: The government’s new ‘no-frills’ schools

Education Investor, November 2013

The government’s standardised, ‘no frills’ schools are taking shape. Tom Ireland looks at their effect on pupils, communities and the education sector. 

It’s pretty easy to spot a school built during Labour’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) years. This was the era of the cavernous atrium, like the Langley Academy, Berkshire, and of wildly expensive materials, like the all copper chapel of All Saints Academy, Gloucestershire. Some schools, such as Clapham Manor Primary, in South London, are quite breathtakingly beautiful.

EI building programme

Before BSF few new schools had been built in the UK since the 1970s. And for the foreseeable future schools will be box shaped, and resemble, well, schools. Rather than a set of interlocking spaceships, like the Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton (pictured).

Last year education secretary Michael Gove announced a strict set of standards that all new school buildings funded by the government would have to comply with. Three ‘baseline designs’ gave architects a blueprint on which to base their funding bids: many of the curvy and glass flourishes that typified the BSF period are literally banned. More than 260 schools are meant to benefit from the £2.5 billion of funding that is being made available for new premises over the next decade – but the government aims to reduce the cost of new schools by around 30%. So what effect will these strict new design standards have on what actually goes on in schools?

Full story here

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