The British Council for School Environments is to hold its inaugural summit on Monday in what many see as the first test of the organisation’s effectiveness.
The summit will bring together more than 40 figures from across the industry, including contractor Skanska, consultant EC Harris and architect Feilden Clegg Bradley, as well as members of local eduction authorities and teaching staff.
It has been organised to discuss concerns about the government’s plans to renew the physical structure of Britain’s education system, which are centred around the £45bn Building Schools for the Future programme.
Issues likely to be on the agenda at the meeting include sustainability and the high bid costs for BSF, as well as delays in implementing the programme.
The BCSE, which was launched in June this year, is presenting itself as a forum for the exchange of information on “learning environments”.
A spokesperson for the BCSE said it was hoping to be as influential as the British Council for Offices was in its domain.
But questions are already being raised, even from founding members, as to how effective the new organisation will be.
One member said the group had a long way to go before it could command authority in the industry. He said the success of the BCSE would depend on which issues it chose to tackle and which people were leading it.
Architect Simon Henley, who is a principal at architect Buschow Henley and a member of the research council at the BCSE, said the council’s success would depend on how critical it was willing to be of bad design.
He said: “We need it to be candid and upfront about what is and what is not working. We need it to have the balls to say, ‘That is a bad building’, and then learn the lessons from it.”