Industry slams refusal to publish post-occupancy evaluation research on schools built under Labour government

Michael Gove’s schools delivery body has said it will not publish research into the performance of new schools built under the previous government’s school building programmes, in a move that has been slammed by the industry.

Mairi Johnson, deputy director of design at the Education Funding Agency (EFA), the Department for Education’s schools delivery body, said this week that the EFA had no plans to publish the post-occupancy evaluation (POE) research conducted by its precursor body Partnerships for Schools on the previous government’s Building Schools for the Future Programme (BSF).

This is despite calls from the industry and the British Council for School Environments to publish the research, which provide as wide range of performance evaluations of the BSF schools, to help develop best practice in school design and construction and feed into future school building programmes.

Nusrat Faizullah, BCSE chief executive, said the POE was a “really really important” and could provide “vital learning” for future school building programmes.

But speaking at a BSCE event this week, Johnson said: “It’s no longer the intention to publish the POE work. It was done under the previous government and was an analysis of BSF schools and we are not building BSF schools anymore, so you can see why.”

Architect Robin Nicholson, chairman of the previous government’s Zero Carbon Schools Task Force, said the decision was “outrageous” and said the DfE was throwing away knowledge gained under the BSF programme.

He said: “It’s ridiculous. There’s so little published about the performance or non-performance of school buildings and when you have a serious piece of work done on that it is immensely valuable.”

He added that in other industries, such the retail sector, it was “normal practice” for POE to be used to feed into future building programmes.

“There is an amazing amount to learn and that knowledge is being trashed,” he said.

One industry insider, who did not want to be named, condemned the move and accused the government of “playing politics with school building”.

“Whatever you think of BSF there were some good schools built and they clearly want to bury that,” the source said.


Building Future Education UK

Hear Mairi Johnson, Nusrat Faizullah and Robin Nicholson all speak at the BFE UK conference on 9-10 May 2012 at the Business Design Centre, London. Find out more and register your place online >>