Are we Building Schools for the Future???

Dangerous and dilapidated, poorly built and wasteful. Too many school buildings are failing our children + teachers wellbeing and educational attainment reports the RIBA in a comprehensive POE research based paper that calls for a Government review.

Since the early 2000’s Building Schools for the Future programme, through to the current EFA and Academy programmes it is concerning to read our schools still do not have civilised environments, foster health, wellbeing and happiness, delight and inspire children and teachers*

The RIBA report focuses on how design impacts on wellbeing but sadly omits the body of research and knowledge on biophilia and importance of connectivity with nature.

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RIBA’s new report into the state of school buildings, Better Spaces for Learning reveals:

  • 1 in 5 teachers have considered quitting because of the wretched condition of the school buildings they have to teach in
  • The Government’s Education Funding Agency’s new school building programme is too rigid and is leading to waste and poor value for tax payers
  • Over 90% of teachers believe well-built and designed schools improve educational outcomes and pupil behaviour
  • Over-engineered schools, with Government-specified equipment that only costly consultants know how to operate, is costing £150 million per year which could have been avoided if schools were designed better

A new report on the state of school buildings in the UK has been published today (Wednesday 11 May) by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Using the largest ever analysis of primary and secondary school buildings in the UK, a nation-wide poll of teachers, and extensive engagement with school buildings experts, RIBA’sBetter Spaces for Learning report makes the case for an urgent review of the Government’s Education Funding Agency’s current school building programme.

The report emphasises the importance of well-designed school buildings on young people’s wellbeing, behaviour engagement and crucially, attainment.

RIBA has identified that good school design can reduce running and maintenance costs, in some cases by more than several times a teacher’s average salary a year; it could have prevented the English school estate from spending upwards of £150m annually on unnecessary operation and maintenance costs.

The new report is further insight into the Government’s own assertion that just 5% of the nearly 60,000 school buildings across the UK are performing as intended and operating efficiently.* The prevalence of damp, leaky classrooms and asbestos-ridden buildings in British schools means too many pupils and teachers are struggling to learn and teach in conditions damaging to their health and education.

Better Spaces for Learning reveals that the Government’s current programme of building new schools is inefficient – with a lack of flexibility to make the best possible use of resources, and little opportunity for school staff to input into the design of their own new buildings. RIBA believes that the Government programme must be improved to guarantee better outcomes for our public money.

RIBA President Jane Duncan said:

“This country is in the grip of the worst shortage of school places in living memory. Our report highlights the vital importance of school design and how it affects the general health and wellbeing of their users, our children and their teachers. As limited funding is available to deal with the growing problem, every penny spent on schools must deliver maximum value for money. Award winning well-designed, successful schools with happy pupils and productive staff like Burntwood School in London shouldn’t be the exception, they should be the standard.

“How can we expect our children to compete with the world’s best when too many of our school buildings are substandard? Educational improvements resulting from the current programme of school building are not reaching the basic standards that British taxpayers and our economy expects. We need to do better for all of our children and their hardworking teachers. We urge the Government to review its programme of building new schools.”

(*to use Living Building Challenge parlance).

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a real school for the future – without eco-bling

Education Guardian reports today on the development of Acharacle School on the Ardnamurchan peninsula in Scotland.  The report by Tariq Tahir, should make ‘essential ‘ reading for those involved in school design, construction and in community assets. In addition the school childrens blog ‘they are building outside our class‘ illustrates how construction can be a real educational benefit.  One to RSS and watch develop.

And with no eco-bling, no greenwash, this is sustainable development…

The design, illustrating a sustainable future, for two or three generations is based on the use of mass-timber.  Architect Howard Liddel from Gaia comments … “the modern school does what it says on the tin but what it has on the tin is a skull and crossbones, and these are toxic fumes. Modern buildings have huge amounts of formaldehyde coming out of the floor coverings, seat coverings, the walls run with condensation.”

“What this project is doing is ticking a lot of boxes in a very subtle manner. There’s no covering the building in ‘eco-bling’ – the gimmicks people put on to make buildings green. It’s really quite liberating for an architect.”

He promised that the new building would provide a much healthier working environment for the staff and 50-odd pupils. “We have an immense problem with toxic materials in buildings – we have 55,000 chemicals we use in building and only 3% of them have been tested for their effects on humans.

“The timber is very good at dealing with indoor moisture passively. In other words, you don’t need a ventilation system when you’ve actually got a material that’s dealing with the moisture. Continue reading

on building school futures …

school things on my radar this weekend…

In May the Lancashire Construction Best Practice Club will be held at Devonshire School, Blackpool an exemplar school that is a significant step forward in the design of learning environments for young children. Details of the event and site visit will be posted on the Events pages very soon

but … Building schools for the future is far too slow …. says the the NASUWT

Almost half of all teachers work in schools where water drips from the ceilings and windows do not fit properly, a study by the NASUWT concludes. A third complained of damp and slippery corridors, while one in five said lighting was poorly maintained. Most said they had to work in excessively hot or cold conditions and 30 per cent did not have easy access to drinking water.

Source: Scandal of Britain’s Crumbling Schools

What happened when Bright Green, an innovative green recruitment organisation brought together leaders from Britain’s top construction firms, sustainability consultancies, schools think-tanks with Kit Rogers, a teacher at Priestlands Secondary School, Hampshire, to discuss sustainability issues in schools?

Source: The Green School Dinner