The three guest speakers at our online seminar on Building Schools for the Future attracted a lot of interest and questions. Chloë McCulloch gives a round-up and looks at the results of our viewer polls
Last month more than 600 building.co.uk users registered for our webinar on the government’s Building Schools for the Future programme. Billed as “Delivering the schools we aspire to”, the seminar featured three guest speakers – Tim Byles, chief executive of Partnership for Schools, James Bowyer, BSF leader at EC Harris and Julia Barfield, director of Marks Barfield Architects.
Byles kicked off proceedings by describing BSF as the “largest and most ambitious programme of its kind in the world”. That’s no exaggeration: the 15-year project aims to improve facilities for 3.3 million pupils and has a budget of £45bn.
But clearly BSF is not without its critics. The seminar led to an outpouring of questions from our readers. Costs were a prime concern. Many wanted to know when and how the procurement process would be streamlined to reduce the cost to bidders. Others were preoccupied with the whole-life costs of the schools themselves.
Our panel didn’t have time to answer all the 50 or more questions you posted at the time, so we picked 10 of the most searching and put them to each of the speakers. Their answers will appear shortly on the website.
Seminar viewers also expressed their opinions on BSF in our polls, with some interesting results that we can reveal here:
Question 1: Would it be better if local authorities entered BSF when they are ready rather than in predetermined “waves”?
Question 2: Do you think the BSF procurement route is working well for upgrading the schools programme?
No, it’s been a huge mistake: 14.5%
Yes, in principle, but with revisions to the process: 71%
The only way we could afford to upgrade the schools on the scale we have – so a great idea: 14.5%
Question 3: Do you think the funding allowances in BSF match the real cost of delivering transformational environments?
Yes, definitely: 2%
Yes, but it’s a struggle: 26%
In a significant number of cases, no: 51%
No, not at all: 21%
Those of you who were unable to attend the live event can listen to our three guest speakers by going to www.building.co.uk/webinars