1 Welcoming Wave 4 Schools to BSF I’m delighted to welcome the next 15 local authorities to the Building Schools for the Future programme. I am a proud, unashamed Gooner, but also a huge admirer of the way the club brings on young talent. The average ages of the team that beat Liverpool 6-3 lass week was only 22. So I think it’s particularly appropriate that I welcome you to a programme which is aimed at transforming buildings to improve performance in a stadium which was also designed with those aims in mind. Arsene Wenger was horrified by the quality of training facilities when he first came to Arsenal. 2 His recognition that investment in the right infrastructure is essential to improving achievement – not just something that is nice to have – has been a major factor in delivering success over recent years. Wenger’s attention to detail is legendary. He identified exactly the right temperature to keep the players’ muscles supple. He chose the cutlery and chairs to get the best ergonomic fit. He knows the importance of having natural light to ensure concentration, and there is even an eye level waterfall in the gym. Now I’m not sure that we should replace traditional wall displays with eye level waterfalls, but I do think there is an important principle here that resonates with the ambitions of Building Schools for the Future. That is, the recognition that you get the best out of people when you give them the best place to work. 3 Nowhere is that more important than in our schools. Too often, children and teachers haven’t been shown the respect they deserve. Who can feel inspired in a crumbling block with peeling paint and cramped corridors? Who can concentrate in rooms that swelter in summer and leak in winter? Building Schools for the Future will put an end to this shoddy treatment. And not a moment too soon. It’s becoming increasingly recognised that effective design and quality buildings can make an important contribution to higher standards and better schools. Welcoming entrances invite parents in. Wider corridors can improve movement and eradicate the dark corners that act as a haven for bullies. Open classrooms with good light, acoustics and ventilation improve concentration. 4 All this makes it easier for teachers to get the best out of pupils. And of course, modern and striking buildings can be a source of great pride to communities, especially those who have been more used to neglect and deprivation. That’s why I was so pleased that the City of London Academy was last year singled out by winning the Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award. Over the past few days there has been some criticism of Building Schools for the Future. But that criticism has overlooked some really important achievements. Let me be clear what we are doing with Building Schools for the Future. We inherited a school network that was crowded, crumbling and not fit for purpose. Building Schools for the Future is this government’s investment to put that right. 5 In 1997, capital investment in schools was less than £700 million. This year, it is almost £6 billion. But this is not just about spending money. It is about improving the quality of education for all our children. It is an investment in our nation’s future. I make no apologies for making sure we get this right, because these schools must be built to last. The process of planning, financing, designing and building is complex and can’t be completed overnight – it will take time. But it will be done. Already, contracts have been signed covering more than 800 new build or refurbished schools. More schools have been built in the past 5 years than in the past 25. We’ve removed decaying temporary classrooms, repaired leaking roofs, installed efficient heating systems, removed external toilets and improved security. 6 So those that try to knock our investment are attacking change that will help millions of pupils. I know you do not share their perspective and that you all recognise the incredible potential of this scheme. And I want to congratulate you on being chosen to join the next wave. We are determined that the investment we are pouring in must show results, so this process has rightly been tough. You have all been chosen because you are ready to go. Your commitment and ambition is matched by your attention to detail and our certainty that you are thoroughly prepared to begin delivery. Ultimately, we will all be judged on positive impact, not good intentions. 7 This programme will only be a success if we really learn from what’s already working. We must be smarter about sharing experience. And local authorities must have the help they need to deliver the projects. The first few waves have also shown the importance of securing quality through fit for purpose design and making sure that school leaders have the skills to get involved. There has always been support on offer which is also available to you. For example, PfS has a wealth of expertise for you to draw on to achieve your ambitions. Similarly, 4ps specialises in project delivery for local government, and we have given them funding to provide an Expert Client Programme to support you. But I am pleased to be able to announce two new sources of support available to you. 8 The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment who advise the government on architecture, urban design and public space are already involved in an advisory capacity. Now they will be getting more deeply involved in the design and evaluation process to ensure consistent high quality in all projects. All short-listed bidders will have to work with CABE from the beginning of the process to develop their proposals. When these proposals are firmed up, CABE will assess them and pass their evaluation to the local authority. With their input, you can be confident that the designs will give you what you need. We are also working with the National College for School Leadership. 9 They are piloting a project offering school leaders as well as local authorities the training they need to get more involved in Building Schools for the Future – from change management to procurement and ICT. After all, it is Heads and teachers who know what will most make a difference in the classroom and we must have their input to this programme. They must be informed clients who demand the best from BSF. We need them to be able to articulate the educational vision, while designers can come up with innovative solutions that are also practical and workable. Finally, to clarify the objectives for each local project, each of you will be given a “remit for change” which will have had input from the Office of the Schools Commissioner. 10 This will define your goals and acknowledge your challenges. Some of you will already have been discussing this with us. Each remit for change will require you to consider the bigger picture – how Building Schools for the Future links up with local issues like delivery of the 14 to 19 entitlement, school reorganisation, diversity, choice and fair access. All Authorities will be expected to respond through individual Strategies for Change. This will link up Building Schools for the Future with our wider drive to secure higher standards and better schools for all. Finally, I just want to mention the importance of sustainability in design. By building schools for the future, we need to ensure that those schools protect that future – not compromise it. 11 All schools have to meet the standard of “very good” as measured against the Building Research Establishment Evaluation Method for Schools standards. They must already incorporate green elements – whether that means reducing carbon emissions and saving water to using renewable resources. With the increased focus on the need for all public services to take their responsibilities to the environment seriously, we are thinking about whether those standards are still set at the right level and what more can be done to reduce carbon emissions by schools. But one really positive development is that many schools are already using their environment as a resource to teach pupils about sustainability. I think that is incredibly important because it’s essential we educate young people to protect their own future. 12 I’ll finish with some wise words from Leonardo Da Vinci, the ultimate Renaissance man who claimed architecture among his many talents: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” The thinking behind Building Schools for the Future is simple. It’s not art for art’s sake, but design for education’s sake. Our ambition is to ensure that every school is a great place to learn and teach, and I know that is an ambition you share. We don’t want quick build; quick win schools thrown up overnight, but sustainable schools to act as the heart of their community for generations to come. This is an immense responsibility but also an incredible opportunity for you. I wish you every success with your projects. Thank you very much.