We should welcome Gove’s announcement that upto 300 schools could be built using a model based on PFI, but we also need to be on our guard

The government’s schools announcement today recognises the profound need for investment in our school buildings. A decent school environment matters.

Key to the new capital funding programme’s success will be a common sense approach to allocation, which takes into account the needs of schools which apply. We must guard against some of the problems that were a hallmark of early PFI-funded schools.

We also welcome funding to meet the requirements for new school places, which will create some breathing space for hard-pressed schools.

On the specifics of the government’s response to the James Review:

  • The importance of a comprehensive survey into the school estate cannot be understated – we can’t be sure of what we need to do until we’re sure of what the problems are.
  • Complete standardisation of design may not be a panacea – one size does not fit all.
  • Simpler regulations and less red tape will lead to a large sigh of relief for all those professionals involved in the design and construction of schools.

We look forward to responding to the consultation on the other recommendations.

Ty Goddard is director of the British Council for School Environments

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