Cabe asks architect to recruit 30-strong panel to ratchet up standards

Architect Ken Shuttleworth will lead the drive to improve school design for the government’s £45bn Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

He has been asked by Cabe to be the first chair of a 30-strong panel that will review school design. Shuttleworth will also be responsible for recruiting it.

The government called for the establishment of such a group to review designs for schools last year, after increasing criticism of the quality of designs in the early stages of BSF.

Cabe and the panel will now have a bigger say in procurement, advising education authorities before the selection of the preferred bidder. Before, it was brought in after the selection.

Richard Simmons, the chief executive of Cabe, applauded this change, saying that asking for advice after the winning consortium had been chosen was too late in the day.

He said: “Once the process has reached a point where it gets down to three bidders, we will look at an exemplar scheme from each team and do a rigorous design appraisal. When the developer has been selected it is too late, it is often difficult to get the best design at this point.

“Developers could win or lose on design criteria now.”

The panel will review the schools using “What makes a good school?” criteria and then report back to the education authority as well as Partnerships for Schools, the BSF delivery body.

The panel will then review the winning consortium’s plans and report back once again to the education authority.

Shuttleworth will look for members of the panel who have specialist knowledge of BSF and its specific procurement and construction process. He said the panel was essential to improve school design, noting: “We want to make sure every school building is excellent. We need to ensure that everything is the best possible standard.”

The news about the creation of the panel comes as Jack Pringle, president of RIBA, said the procurement route for BSF, was “the worst in the industry”.
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