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Building Schools for the Future

Part of the series School Matters

  Screen capture from Building Schools for the Future


Building Schools for the Future (BSF) is the multi-billion-pound scheme to provide state-of-the-art educational facilities to all secondary school children. This whole-school video presents the concept and the potential.

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For secondary headteachers and teaching staff, Mukund Patel from the DfES discusses the idea behind BSF and the huge opportunity it offers secondary education.

Also meet two quite different BSF schools: Smiths Woods Secondary School in Chemsley Wood, the first BSF school due to open, and Whitefield Fishponds Community School in Bristol, some of whose pupils are involved with the Sorrell Foundation's Joined up Designs for Schools project.

BSF, however, is not without its critics. This video examines the difficulties for designers in predicting how learning environments will change in the future, as well as the lack of staff and pupil participation in the design process. It also look at some concerns over the increased involvement of public-sector finance in the education system.


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    • Missing the Mark
      6 August 2007 - 01:31

      Regretably, this project appears to be making the same mistakes regarding the re-design of learning spaces.

      The comments by many teachers show that they are not prepared to let go of a didactic teaching model in favour of a learner-centred learning model. The pedagogy determines the students and teacher needs and this obviously translates into the design of learning spaces.

      Adopt a proven learner-centred pedagogy like Problem-Based Learning and then analyse the student & teacher needs. The result is more flexible learning spaces where studnets and teachers can move seamlessly in and out of the technology and work as coaches rather than a sage determining each step of learning.

      Some of the ideas put forward in the video have merit. Flexibility in learning spaces is a positive factor in design. Treating the students (and their families) as clients and adopting more mature forms of communication and cooperation are steps in the right direction. Lastly, encouraging industry to invest in schools is very important. By doing so the curriculum remains current, the number of real-world projects for students increases and industry buy-in produces vibrant and adaptive schools.

    • Stan Terry Stan Terry


      12 May 2006 - 10:30

      I'm back again to comment, after reflection, that one of the things that BSF projects should be about is starting from first principles and looking to see how curiculum delivery through the building could be delivered. Clearly on site energy generation, CHP and ground heat pumps in the initial design briefs could be incorporated in a significant number of curriculum areas. The use of schools grounds as outdoor classrooms and centres of biodiversity should also be at the forefront of any architectural design process. Its not just about having well built and fit for purpose buildings, although they are to be welcomed but it is about the place of the school in its 'community and that communities impact on the world which should provide rich opportunities for enhancing the ESD agenda through the BSF programme. It would be good to get a response from architects to such proposals on film. Building schools for the future should be about building sustainability into the education system and helping the world to operate more sustainably!

    • Stan Terry Stan Terry


      4 May 2006 - 09:06

      It certainly seems to me that there are some relevant and challenging questions floated in this programme.Crucially however, there is little said about building the principles of sustainability into such projects, in the course of the programme. There is far too little about the conceptual approach required to design such buildings.

      It is certainly true that without consultation with all the users of such a building and the ommission of anything to do with the ECM agenda is significant, that what we will get for our money if anything will be more of the same only prettier! perhaps the prison analogy is a good one. Dexter Whitfield from Newcastle put his finger on it when he commented upon business taking over education. Companies building schools for the future under BSF guidlines may have to meet BREEAM standards but given the opportunity they will build down to those standards! They are about making money over the 25 year PFI period.

      We need architects who really understand the education process but who are also committed to sustainability principles if we are to have schools which are beacons for the 21st century and exemplify what communities can do to make our world much more sustainable. Schools are at the heart of most communities and principles of practice learnt there will seep into their comunities.If the community is involved at the outset then so much the better. Nice try but it needs following up with a series which explains the sustainable development principles which should underpin such a building programme. It also requires greater analysis of the consultation processes that need to be undertaken from the outset. School Governors/Headteachers/teachers and communities should be afforded the opportunity to create a vision for their community schools which are not someone else's ideas of what can be built for the money!.

    • Peter Hyson Peter Hyson


      21st Century Educational Needs
      28 April 2006 - 16:27

      Given the supposedly-high profile of the Every Child Matters agenda and especially the need for close co-operation between Health, Social Service, Youth Justice, Voluntary, Community and Education provision, it is disappointing that none of these projects appeared to even vaguely visit the fresh thinking. If it is allegedly too difficult to even consult the pupils, there's no hope of consulting the commuity. It seems to me there'sa huge risk of perpetuating the dangerous fallacy that "education" is what schools do TO the community not in service OF the community. AmI naive in thinking that the opportunities here are so exciting and yet so much at risk of being overlooked and therefore lost? What can we do? What do others think?

    • Stan Terry Stan Terry


      Re : response
      12 May 2006 - 10:34

      peter, I'm 100 % with you on this.Its not about the buildings alone. Its about what messages those new buildings are selling to their communities. It's not enough to just build something but what is to be built, how it is to be built and how the build can underpin the curriculum and the community are fundamental questions that need to be asked up front! Its certainly true that one of the first questions that ought to be asked is what is the place of the school in its community and to understand that the community need to be involved.