It is clear that the much awaited Government’s Review of Capital Investment led by Sebastian James (pictured left) will represent a significant milestone in the development of a new approach to investing in the infrastructure and facilities in our schools across the country. The challenge is clear: how do we maintain a level of investment, focus and innovation within a tight budget settlement. Whilst some local authorities apply for Judicial Review of decisions to cut Building Schools for the Future (BSF), the national challenge remains. Quite simply a significant proportion of our school estate is now beyond its design life – schools need to be fit for purpose.We know we are in a climate of ‘more for less’ and that school investment must compete with other investment priorities. Discussion within the review team has focused on elements of standardisation, modular construction and learning from other sectors including retail.
In discussion with the review team at the Department, and with Sebastian James himself, the British Council for School Environments (BCSE) has communicated key messages from the full spectrum of its membership. The BCSE’s submission to the review gave a commonsense overview of what had worked well in the past and what needed to be improved. A ‘Blueprint for Schools’ developed by the BCSE drew on international research to identify optimum school environments. Decent School environments and key enabling factors – like quality of air, light, acoustics, temperature, comfort and build quality – do matter and can influence educational outcomes . To read the British Council for School Environments’ submission to the James Review and research overview – see below.
Within a matter of weeks the review, I understand, will appear as an interim report for further consultation, discussion and debate. It is our responsibility to think about the quality of the educational experience and environment for all young people. Seeking common ground is not a sign of weakness but a national imperative. The James Review will play its part in that national debate.