Building showed itself to be rather behind the news when it said last week (28 September, pages 13 and 28) that it had “emerged” that the targets set in 2004 for the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme would not be met – something we have been saying, and addressing, for months now.
Since I joined Partnerships for Schools last November, I have ensured that we have always been open and honest about the fact that BSF was running behind its original target. This was for good reason, including over-optimism and some preparedness and resourcing issues on the part of local authorities. Delivering a project on such a scale and starting with the most deprived areas was always going to be challenging.
Through continuous dialogue and by learning lessons, we have refined our processes and the pace of delivery has accelerated considerably. We now expect 60 new schools to open in 2008/09, ratcheting up to about 200 every year after that.
An enthusiastic response from stakeholders to this autumn’s review of the role of design and ICT in the procurement process, and the role of local education partnerships, will assist us in making the BSF process more efficient, as will the development of the National Learning Network, case studies and good practice by more local authorities.
With the opening of our first new BSF school in Bristol last month, we are putting delays behind us and concentrating on delivering a programme that is good news for students, teachers, local communities and the construction industry in this country.
Tim Byles, chief executive, Partnerships for Schools