The government hasn’t moved away from standardisation for school designs - it’s just avoiding being too prescriptive

The government’s plans to develop standardised school designs were never very explicit, as it never went into much detail on how such designs would be developed (“Government drops plans for standardised school designs”, 20 April, page 9). If it had procured designers to produce these the outcomes would have been as reference only, rather than a template.

The Department for Education and Education Funding Agency seem to be saying school building regs are going to be simplified to remove red tape and that they expect the private sector to develop their own solutions to the challenge of replacing our crumbling estate at low cost.

Most contractors are now engaged in developing school building proposals that rely to some extent on standardisation: ranging from completely pre-designed schools to solutions which can be assembled from component parts. The government has not moved away from standardisation, far from it, it is just not being too prescriptive about what the solutions might be. This will come as a relief to those contractors and consultants who have already invested in developing these solutions in readiness for the Priority Schools Building Programme.

Philip Watson, design director and head of education, Atkins