“For people working in education this is the most stressful handover from one government to another. For the first time we have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen.”So said the key note speaker at the opening of the Remodelling Education Spaces conference in Manchester this week. And having spoken to some of the delegates over the past two days I can see what he means. Teachers are reeling from the cancellation of BSF just as construction professionals are trying to figure out how to offer them schools they want for their pupils at a much reduced price.One London head teacher told me how a colleague at a neighbouring school that lost out on BSF by a matter of days was reduced to tears. Over five years of work, a complete strategy for the school and promises made to children - all for nothing. What confused this head was that in this particular area of London it’s been recognised that the equivalent of four new secondary schools is needed by 2014 because of a bulge in the number of primary pupils that exists now. “The council simply doesn’t know what it will do in three or four years time […] the worry is that we’ll be forced to expand without extra money,” she said.There were no tears at the conference but there was a feeling that people are genuinely unsure of what lies ahead - teachers, suppliers, contractors, architects, local authorities, academy sponsors - they are all asking questions and trying to find a way forward.That’s not to say it was all doom and gloom, there were positive stories. School children from Ackrington Academy discussed how they designed a sustainable classroom in partnership with architects and contractors. It’s due to start on site next month and some of the pupils are going to the US where their design has been shortlisted in a competition. Their enthusiasm for the project was truly heartening.Other school success stories demonstrated how renewed education spaces can benefit the wider community - theatre halls that have hosted everything from weddings to WeightWatchers meetings.And looking to future projects, designers at the conference seemed confident that refurbishment can offer schools the teaching space they aspire to. There was a constant theme among speakers and delegates that aspirations shouldn’t be limited just because money is more scarce. The fear is that government will revert to a patch-and-mend attitude for our ageing school estate. Much of the debate at the conference was about how to convince politicians not to go down that path.Concern about lack of funds was by no means not universal. Speaking to the chairman of an academy sponsor that’s recently arrived on the scene with ambitious expansion plans, it seems there’s plenty of City investors interested in funding education projects.Another sponsor also spoke of big ambitions, suggesting sponsors could become the client and completely by-pass “bureaucratic” local authorities. This generation of sponsors present a vision of independent state schools with high aspirations for their pupils. It may not be to everyone’s taste but it’s certainly a confident stance at a time when so many are looking for a new direction.