Select Committee on Education and Skills Seventh Report


1. The Building Schools for the Future programme is a hugely ambitious project to rebuild or refurbish all the secondary schools in England over a fifteen year period. It is ambitious in reach, in cost (the Government is providing around £45 billion in capital funding and PFI credits over the period) and in timescale. We were originally inspired to look at the issue because of the cost implications and to take a view on how effectively the very large amount of public money involved was being spent. While those cost and procurement issues remain of great interest, over the course of the inquiry we have also focused on the educational opportunities provided by the project and the way in which sustainability issues are being addressed.

2. While Building Schools for the Future is directed at secondary schools, there are separate extensive capital programmes for primary schools and further education colleges, and we have also looked at these during the inquiry. The current aim is to redevelop the whole of the further education estate; half has already been completed. The primary programme is designed to allow for the rebuilding, remodelling or refurbishment of at least 50% of primary schools.[1] Across these three sectors, therefore, there is an opportunity to provide new and improved facilities that is unlikely to arise again for many years. The key question is, from the point of view of value for money, fitness for purpose, educational transformation and sustainability, are we building schools for the future?


3. In the inquiry we took evidence from:

4. We also held two seminars, one at the beginning of the inquiry and one once we had finished gathering evidence. The participants in the first seminar were: Andy Ford, Partner, Fulcrum Consulting, and CABE enabler for Sustainability; Phil Green, Director of Education, Bradford; Professor Stephen Heppell; John Houlihan, Local Education Partnership Acting General Manager, Integrated Bradford; and Sharon Wright, Creative Wit. Those who attended the second seminar were: Damian Allen, Executive Director, Children's Services, Knowsley Council; Dr Chris Gerry, Chief Executive, New Line Learning Federation; Professor Stephen Heppell; Martin Mayfield, Arup; Roland Meredith, Education Adviser; John Pilkington, Managing Director, Strategic Development, Amey plc; and Carole Whitty, Deputy General Secretary, National Association of Head Teachers.

5. The Committee visited the City of London Academy, Southwark; the Academy of St Francis of Assisi, Liverpool; Knowsley Council; and the New Line Learning Federation, Maidstone.

6. We established a consultation exercise facilitated for us by Teachers' TV through their website. Teachers, governors and other school staff were invited to give their views on what they wanted from the Building Schools for the Future programme, and 148 people responded. Teachers' TV is also preparing a documentary on the inquiry process, which it intends to screen in conjunction with the publication of the report. We are grateful to Teachers' TV for the help that they have given us.

7. We are grateful to all of those who participated in the inquiry whether through providing evidence in person or in writing, through participating in seminars or participating in a visit. We are also grateful to Toby Greany, formerly of the Design Council and now of the National Council for School Leadership, for advising us during the inquiry.

8. As we came to the end of our inquiry, the DfES was divided into the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. Responsibility for BSF now rests with DCSF and we have reflected that in the text. However, some historical references to the DfES remain.

1   HC Deb, 9 March 2006, Col 71WS.  Back

2   The Local Government Association's Public Private Partnerships Programme. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2007
Prepared 9 August 2007