Ruth Reed warns capital spend should not solely focus on projects with most financial return as industry braces itself for job losses

The RIBA has warned that the end of the Building Schools for the Future programme will be “profoundly detrimental” to the construction industry and to pupils, as the sector braces itself for heavy job losses.

RIBA president Ruth Reed said: “We know that school buildings that are designed well improve children’s attainment, happiness and productivity - this applies to both new and refurbished schools.

“Though spending cuts are being implemented across all government departments, essential spending on improving the school estate was long overdue.”

Her comments come as the industry struggles to come to terms with the government’s announcement which, although widely trailed, affected more schemes than many in the sector expected.

One architect said this morning: “I don’t know how our practice is going to survive. BSF makes up well over half of our workload.”

Reed acknowledged that the BSF programme was “not without flaws”, especially in its procurement process, but said: “In attempting to reduce the deficit, it is essential that the government does not offset a fledgling economic recovery by solely investing in the capital expenditure projects with the most financial returns, but those that will affect long-term change to people’s lives; education is one of these fundamental areas.”

She added: “The RIBA urges the review team to recommend that the government prioritises school refurbishment and renovation; this is essential to meeting the UK’s carbon targets and to improving schools that badly need renewal.”