Welcoming Wave 4 Schools to Building Schools for the Future

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           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.

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.

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


All this makes it easier for teachers to get the best out of


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.

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.

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.

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.

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


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.

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.

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.

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


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.

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