RIBA president Ruth Reed says government must safeguard pupils’ needs

The Royal Institute of British Architects has warned the James Review’s recommendations for school design are a threat to education standards.

RIBA president Ruth Reed called on the government to reject the James Review’s “over-simplistic” approach to school design.

The review of education capital spending by Sebastian James recommends future school buildings should be based on a single set of standardised designs and specifications, sparking fears of “flatpack” schools.

Ruth Reed said: “We urge the government to recognise the complexities in delivering the best new school buildings possible and to reject the over-simplistic approach recommended by the James review.

“This is not about more work for architects; it is about ensuring the best outcomes for school users and best value for money for the taxpayer.

“The James Review recognises the wastage that took place through Building Schools for the Future (BSF), but over-emphasises as a solution the role of standardisation in school design.

“There is certainly a case for the standardisation of certain elements of a school building, but the review fails to recognise that a school which is ’fit for purpose’ must meet the needs of its client.

“The housing minister, Grant Shapps, recently quite rightly condemned the identikit housing estates that are being churned out up and down the country, and we would be concerned if the pattern-book mass housing delivery model were endorsed by the education secretary, Michael Gov,e and applied to schools, which work best when they respond to the needs of students, teachers and the context of a site.”

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