It was uplifting to see so many fantastic examples of school design recognised at the awards last night hosted by the British Council for School environments. Also great to share the upbeat mood of those in a sector that is still flourishing – for now at least –  who attended the bash at the glorious  Emirates Stadium in London.

Among the night’s biggest winners were best school contractor Morgan Ashurst and best school architect Nicholas Hare. Best school extension went to two firms Haverstock Associates for Ifield School, Kent and Buschow Henley for The Cloisters, St Benedict’s School, Ealing – Buschow Henley. There were some really eye catching projects on the shortlists too, like Surface to Air’s Rotunda building in Slough. This building for children excluded from main school education boasts bright colours and sweeping curves that have turned a functional facility into an inviting community space. A chat with a judge on the sidelines revealed this scheme only just missed out on a prize.

The quality of even the schemes that were only shortlisted emphasises the point that three really are some exciting school schemes happening in the UK. One consultant at the event has worked in Canada, where he said the brief for a major school building programme was to recreate “carbon copies” of the existing schools. What a world away from the (admittedly over-used word) “transformational” ambitions of the Building Schools for the Future programme.

The only dark clouds at last night’s event were the fears, shared by many, that the next government, whatever the party, will cut spending on the school building programme. This would be terrible blow for construction of course but also for all the young people who could benefit from the exciting work our industry is contributing to.

Read the action as it happened at