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Minimum Standard of Design Quality for Secondary Schools in England
Detail: Building Schools for the Future (BSF) is the UK Government’s biggest-ever school buildings investment program (£45bn) and involves improving or rebuilding 3,500 secondary schools in England. The schools minister Jim Knight announced that every new secondary school building will have to reach a minimum standard of design quality or they will not be given the go-ahead. Students and teachers will join experts in schools architecture to vet designs before they are selected by local authorities. Designs which fail to reach the threshold will be sent back to the drawing board.

This new policy follows research done by the government's own design watchdog, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe), that has shown that an estimated eight out of 10 schools proposed under the program are "mediocre" or "not yet good enough". Cabe discovered problems including bullying hotspots, noisy open-plan areas which make teaching difficult, and classrooms which are too dark or prone to overheating.

As BSF is a key New Labour programme aimed at promoting schools that are "the best equipped in the world for 21st-century learning", Ken Shuttleworth, an architect and former partner of Lord Foster, who leads Cabe's design review panel, has said that only those proposals receiving an overall rating of excellent or good should be considered to be of an acceptable standard. BSF presents a unique opportunity to raise the quality of design in schools. The government in demanding a minimum standard of design quality is educating clients to the power of what design can do.
Source: Based on a story by Robert Booth and Polly Curtis titled “Design threshold set for new secondary schools: Minister announces goals for £45bn programme: Eight out of 10 proposed not yet at required level” in The Guardian, September 18, 2008, Thursday.
Date: September 26 2008