The New 3Rs

Rethinking schools capital investment: The New 3Rs?

The purpose of this guide

In the context of a new austerity in public spending, refurbishment work of some kind will comprise a significant part of the new coalition Government’s building programme. The BCSE proposes that reinventing existing school buildings can help enhance learning outcomes and can create environments that are both comfortable and inspirational.

This booklet looks at the opportunities that refurbishing existing buildings can offer, breaking the term refurbishment into what we are calling ‘the new 3Rs’.

Refresh which looks at the valuable contribution that good interior design and high quality furniture can make.

Refurbishment which includes more major upgrading of the building fabric and services as well as remodelling of internal spaces, whilst

Reuse considers new functions for redundant buildings, whether it is breathing new life into old school buildings or converting existing offices or retail units into new schools.

The New 3Rs – refresh, refurbishment and reuse of schools

As part of the Government’s drive to reduce levels of public spending, a greater focus on making best use of new and existing assets is likely to be an important theme for cash-strapped public bodies. As experience of the implementation of new educational models, such as personalised and independent learning, matures in the UK, capital spending is also more likely to be focused on creating the setting for achieving high standards, rather than a physical upgrade of the schools estate.

The BCSE already plays a major part in contributing to the debate about how thoughtful refurbishment can enhance teaching and refurbishment. The Great Schools Enquiry and The Big School Makeover have been particularly successful in highlighting key issues.

This guide continues that programme of work and points out a number of issues that future policy makers should consider when contemplating a replacement for the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. It highlights a number of case studies that demonstrate the added value that good designers can bring when working with existing buildings.

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