Select Committee on Education and Skills Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by HTI (Heads Teachers and Industry) Ltd

  "Every school should also be an environmentally sustained school, with a good plan for school transport that encourages walking and cycling, an active and effective recycling policy (moving from paper to electronic processes wherever possible) and a school garden or other opportunities for children to explore the natural world. Schools must teach our children by example as well as by instruction".

DfES strategy document 2005.

    "Securing the Future" requires public services and systems to be delivered without negatively affecting future generations or people in less affluent parts of the globe."

Government response to EAC report on Education for Sustainable Development.

    "Sustainable development will not just be a subject in the classroom: it will be in its bricks and mortar and the way the school uses and even generates its own power. Our students won't just be told about sustainable development, they will see and work within it: a living, learning place in which to explore what a sustainable lifestyle means".

Tony Blair, Prime Minister, September 2004.


  HTI is an independent, not for profit, social enterprise that works in partnership with business, education and Government to enhance education leadership and the employability of young people.

  HTI (Heads Teachers and Industry) has been at the forefront of developing resources for schools and school leadership teams in the area of Education for Sustainable Development since 1996.

  HTI has produced since that date two web sites (Education for Sustainability) a curriculum resource and an on-line auditing and benchmarking tool for schools to utilise in understanding their environmental performance.

  HTI has also designed and delivered training programmes for school leaders and governors (200+) on Leadership and Sustainability in the West Midlands region and is working with Cambridge University Programme for Industry and Durham County Council on the development of a leadership development programme for school and LA officers called "Leading into the Future".

  HTI is also engaged with other NGOs' in seeking to develop opportunities for Education for Sustainable Development to be incorporated into all leadership programmes delivered through the National College for School Leadership (NCSL).

  This paper has been prepared by Stan M Terry MA, Environment Consultant for HTI.


  BSF is an ambitious government programme which seeks to achieve a whole scale transformation of the building fabric of the nation's schools. At the same time it proposes a transformation in the learning processes undertaken in schools and a re-orientation towards sustainability.

  Change will be a constant factor in education for the foreseeable future. This needs to be taken into consideration when designing the buildings, the curricula and the learning experiences of students for the next 25 years.

  The importance of this once in a lifetime opportunity to effect a significant cultural change in our education structures is highlighted.

  Questions are raised as to the capability of the construction industry in delivering sustainable buildings within the programme, given their long history of waste and profligacy. The minimum recycled requirements of the programme are identified as a significant missed opportunity.

  The involvement of LAs in the BSF programme is welcomed but the ability of the LAs to deliver within a framework of competing policy arrangements such as the ECM and extended schools agendas is highlighted.

  Effecting significant cultural change will be required of this programme but the concept of sustainability is little understood in the teaching profession and within communities. Therefore there is a need to deliver development opportunities to ensure understanding.

  Future learning needs of students and communities are identified as an area of significant concern, given that the learning environments required in the future are little understood by most architects and teachers. This once again highlights the importance of providing early opportunities for learning amongst target groups.

  The process of building schools for the future provides an opportunity to put into practice government best practice procurement processes, however this idea of sustainability and the principles of best value as exemplified by Gershon may create a conflict which will need to be resolved.

  BSF schools must embody the principles of sustainable development. They must demonstrate to their communities their commitment to the process. However,the success or failure of the programme will not rest with the design of the buildings but the processes which are undertaken to realise the project and the quality of the training and development given to leadership teams, teachers, governors and the communities in which schools will be located.


  In less than three decades environmental/sustainability education has developed from a marginal activity to being an increasing focus for our collective view of the purpose of education and learning.

  Mounting evidence of environmental destruction and significant climate change impact necessitates a change of focus in the learning experiences, to be undertaken by our children, in schools, to ensure that they are capable of the critical and systematic thinking required to ensure the security of our planet for future generations.

  Schools have a particular role to play in securing the future for our young people. They, as places of learning, can help students understand our personal and societal impacts on the planet. As models of good practice they can demonstrate to young people and the community what sustainable living is about. Schools should be preparing young people to take positive active roles in finding solutions to both local and global problems and preparing them for a sustainable future world.

  To that end, schools need to adopt an approach to the design and delivery of their curricula, which encompasses sustainable development at its heart. Schools must also adopt an environmentally sustainable approach to the utilisation of the buildings and grounds within which they operate, as well as developing policies focussed on sustainable purchasing of goods and services delivered to them as organisations.


  Building Schools for the Future will invest over £45 billion in transforming all secondary schools over the next 15 years. It has been announced that BSF will be expanded to ensure significant numbers of primary schools will also be re-furbished. This is a welcome investment in the future of the education system.

  It is an investment moreover that is urgently needed. For many children their present learning environments are generally poor and militate against successful learning experiences.

  There is a growing body of evidence from the USA and from the UK which makes clear that learning environments are significantly important in ensuring increasing levels of student performance (HMG group 1999 and 2001 and CABE 2002).

  BSF represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to create schools that are fit for the 21st century and beyond.

  The Government is clear that BSF is about capital investment to transform learning and working environments in schools with the objective of delivering higher standards of educational performance. It is an educational programme rather than just a building programme.

  The Government's Sustainable Development Strategy offers a broad but simple definition of sustainable development as that "which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".

  In the context of the Building Schools for the Future programme it is essential that the programme itself, the buildings it produces and the processes which are undertaken to achieve the completion of the programme are transformative.

  To achieve this, the programme must offer much more than simply the provision of environmentally neutral buildings.

  It should offer the opportunity for radical changes in the manner in which students are educated, provide buildings which have minimal impact upon the environment, ensure learning opportunities which engage with the whole community of the school and which exemplify to its community the practices and process which are designed to enable the community to achieve sustainability.


Will BSF ensure that schools are sustainable-environmentally, economically and socially?

  A building programme as envisaged by BSF is likely to have a significant impact on the ability of the UK construction industry to deliver the programme. Historically the UK construction industry has not been noted for its environmentally sustainable track record.

  Some 60% of the raw materials processed worldwide are used in building and construction. The waste record of the UK construction industry has been poor. Some 17% of all waste arising in the UK (434 million tonnes) are created by Construction (70 million tonnes). Of this total 30% is deposited in landfill. Research evidence has also shown that some 20% of all materials delivered to construction sites are never used and consigned to landfill as a result of wasteful/poor practice on site.

  Indeed the DTI draft strategy for construction survey (2006) makes clear that "The Government believes that the time is now right to take initiatives further, with a look towards 2020 and encouraging the introduction of more complex sustainability plans, for example in the fields of: `whole life costing' of buildings; implementation of `site waste management plans' and gaining a wider adoption of key performance indicators throughout industry."

  It makes clear that the construction industry must embrace more sustainable forms of building and make better use of resources in their delivery. Yet this is a target towards 2020. BSF should be providing the opportunity to the industry to achieve such targets.

  The target figures for the use of recycled aggregate materials in the BSF programmes to date are a clearly wasted opportunity. There are requirements for utilisation of recycled materials in the project, but the volumes are minimal (10%).

  The programme should provide opportunities for the development of a zero waste philosophy on BSF contracts, with on site utilisation of materials and enforced separation of waste materials by all contractors to promote further use. But this opportunity has been wasted. One must ask the question WHY? Is it too difficult for the industry to achieve?

  WRAP (Waste Resources Action Programme) in a study published in May 2005 has made clear that there is a case for an increasing utilisation of recycled material content in BSF projects.

  The Davis Langdon study (2004), identified by WRAP, on exemplar designs for schools identified that 10% recycled requirement would not increase the costs of BSF projects and could be achieved without difficulty, indeed figures of 17% could be achievable without increased costs.

  WRAP makes the point that the recycled content target for BSF school projects could be set higher. But after consultation with PfS has set the figure at 10% because of perceived increased costs, if set higher! Whilst the P4S LEPS schedule identifies waste leaving the site at less than 3.5% of total production output and as a per cent of construction value what evidence is there to date that such targets have been met or are likely to be met?

  It has been pointed out that there may be significant longer-term savings to the industry through efficiency gains in considering and finding viable solutions too many of the topics raised, such as waste minimisation. Indeed the document "Building a better quality of life—a strategy for more sustainable construction" (2000) made clear that savings of 30%+ could be made in the construction sector by adopting more sustainable practices.

  It would seem an opportunity to significantly improve the recycling and waste production attitudes of the UK construction industry has been sadly lost by adopting such a cautious approach under the BSF framework!


  Examples of environmentally sound school buildings are not common. To that end the BREEAM assessment tool launched in 2005 is to be used to assess new build and refurbishment school projects based on environmental performance levels. The assessments are made in terms of:

    —  Management.

    —  Energy use.

    —  Health and well-being.

    —  Pollution.

    —  Transport.

    —  Land use.

    —  Ecology.

    —  Materials.

    —  Water.

  The DfES has made it a requirement of funding for all new schools and refurbishment projects to aim for a very good rating. It is recognised in the construction industry that there are limitations to the BREEAM assessment methodology as it stands at present. By not insisting upon designs achieving "excellent" ratings in all respects an opportunity to promote the sustainability agenda through the school building programme has been lost. The opportunity to drive construction towards excellence standards in all aspects of BSF should have been considered a priority.


  In considering the Government's Sustainable Development Strategy we need to ask if the environments to be created through BSF will enhance the learning, health and quality of life for the schools and communities in which they are developed.

  Defining the likely needs of learners and their communities for the future is difficult to predict. The ways in which we learn, what we need to learn and the likely and unlikely demands of a knowledge driven economy will ensure that if nothing else there is likely to be constant change over the next 25 years.

  The process of designing and delivering "education" for the next 25 years and beyond in such a climate of change becomes seriously problematic. This has significant implications for the design of learning environments that are being created under the BSF programme.

  The funding being allocated for the programme requires that LAs' work with schools and other stakeholders to create an educational vision for the future for these schools. The vision forms the heart of the LA strategic business case for BSF which has to be approved by DfES and PfS to ensure the money for the project is forthcoming.

  However, that vision is somewhat constrained by national policy priorities eg Academies, personalised learning etc. This constrained vision is further diluted by the habit of most architects and practices of staying within the boundaries created by issues such as DfES area guidelines, building bulletins, etc.

  Where is the opportunity for a true vision of learning for the next century to determine the buildings, which will be required to deliver the sustainability agenda?

  The opportunities for innovation in the physical environment of schools being constrained are further limited by the inability of school leaders in general to be able to effectively envision their own learning environments for the future.

  School leaders, governors, teachers, students and communities need assistance in building a vision for their school of the future. Without that kind of support we will simply get more of what we have now and the transformative opportunities presented by BSF will be lost both in building design and pedagogic practice.


  We need to effect a culture change in our schools if we are to deliver truly 21st century schools otherwise we will simply have an incremental improvement on 20th century models.

  LAs should be required to ensure that cultural change processes are embedded in school communities, which will be impacted by BSF. It is important that school leadership teams are provided with the knowledge and understanding to enable them to make sustainable choices in their involvement with the design process.

  It is HTI's experience that most school leadership teams have little understanding/close knowledge about the sustainability agenda as it affects their school or their communities and will require specific opportunities to undergo CPD, which will enhance their understanding and enable them to envision a truly sustainable school design for the 21st century.

  Whilst PfS is making efforts to support such a process the decision to engage with facilitating organisations rests with the LAs. Many LAs will work to engage with school staff, pupils and communities, however, the nature of financial constraints will effectively mean that much consultation which takes place, assuming it does take place, will be at a cursory level.

  Significantly more work needs to be undertaken to ensure that such processes are embedded in the programme to ensure effective cultural change. The opportunity to develop awareness and effect cultural change needs to be delivered through focussed CPD opportunities for Heads, Governors, Teachers and the school community otherwise BSF will only effect improvements [which may be limited] on a 20th century model rather than a 21st century model. Indeed the opportunities presented by BSF will not be able to be realised, unless the training programmes for all teachers and school leaders provided through NCSL and the TDA incorporates the issue of sustainability.


  Sustainable schools are not only well managed environments. They are also where learning is at the centre of everything. Pupils achieve high standards through the contextualisation of the learning they undertake. The impetus for achievement comes from issues that matter to young people. The school estate and the local area are used as a learning resource so that pupils are engaged in real issues amongst real people and the get the opportunities to understand the local in the national and international context.

  Sustainable development is a cross cutting theme in the national curriculum in England with specific references to four statutory subjects, but the opportunity exists to utilise its links across all subjects in the curriculum.

  Government expects to change behaviour in the community in respect of sustainability through learning, but also through the capital investment in school buildings. School buildings will be expected to be managed sustainably, with the whole school becoming a medium for the community to acquire positive sustainable habits.

  Thus schools should have in place greener travel arrangements for pupils, which include walking and cycling to school, which can contribute significantly to the health of the population.

  They will require efficient management of schools buildings which should result in lower energy and water bills. However, there are conflicts, which are likely to occur, when one considers the Extended Schools and Every Child Matters agendas in conjunction with the BSF programme.

  Local recruitment of staff and local purchasing by the school can effectively contribute towards the sustainability of the community. Better health can be promoted through better, locally sourced, catering arrangements. Working with parents and members of the local community on issues of sustainability provides the opportunity to improve the reputation of the school, attract additional pupils and influence local affairs.

  Crucially BSF appears to have little to offer schools in terms of learning environments for the future without a radical reconceptualisation by teachers and architects/LA's of their role in the education process. Richard Felden has made clear that "The science of designing learning environments is currently remarkably underdeveloped".

  Certainly whilst the DfES publishes guidelines determining the amount of space funded per pupil and the uses to which it can be put, most architects do not depart from the guidelines. Hence how transformational might the learning environments created under BSF be? The present approach limits the potential for schools in terms of the vision, the how, where and when they deliver learning and to whom!

  This is compounded by teacher's attitudes/knowledge towards classroom design. An unpublished Design Council/Mori research survey (2005) makes clear that most teachers do not appear to recognise the need for change in their classrooms, principally because most teaching in schools is wedded to a traditional pedagogic transmission model of learning focussed around a content heavy national curriculum.

  The curriculum in our schools must change and with it the forms of learning, in order to grasp the opportunities presented by possible new learning environments. However, if schools do not understand the need to change their operational approach towards the curriculum, timetable and communication processes then we are unlikely to make the most of any transformational opportunity presented by BSF.

  There is a need therefore to address through CPD teachers understanding of the design process and its applicability to pedagogy. If this happens then there will be opportunities for innovative and sustainable change in schools and learning. If not change is likely to be fragmented and piecemeal.

  The Environmental Audit Committee in its 2005 report made clear that it considered that the Government was failing to get its message across to the general public with regard to sustainability and that "in far too many schools, ESD is either not known about or is judged to be low priority". BSF cannot bring about a significant change to deliver on sustainability on its own. It needs a co-ordinated approach, which involves LAs, the DfES, NCSL, schools, school Governors, leadership teams and members of the local community to deliver effectively on this agenda.


  The involvement of LAs enables the integration of BSF into the wider strategic plans for regeneration and reform in local services. However, this brings its own tensions. The LA with a strategic overview may run into conflict with the views of local schools and their communities. If LAs have a strategic brief they may for example wish to reduce the number of schools within their area through BSF processes, or re-locate a school. This may bring them into conflict with communities and existing schools.

  It might, given the opportunities presented by "Trust" school proposals, create difficulties in delivery on BSF given that LAs will be investing their own resources and are unlikely to welcome a transfer of assets to Trusts and as such may not be keen to invest above the amounts required by the schools capital programme. This may have implications for the overall funding available for developmental/preparatory work with communities for whom BSF proposals are being produced. LAs are also constrained by the DfES limiting BSF funding for extended school facilities.

  Whilst LAs have a duty to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development the evidence presented by the review of Statutory Sustainable Development Duties Report of 2006 is that they struggle to achieve additional responsibilities. If this is the case then achieving sustainable development through BSF builds may prove difficult to achieve. It is also true that the capacity of some LAs to manage significant change may be limited given their internal re-organisations as a result of the Every Child Matters agenda.



  Sustainability has to be at the core of the purchasing process. Within the context of climate change, carbon emissions and threats to biodiversity environmental considerations must also be treated as seriously as financial decisions.

  The Environmental Audit Committee made clear in its 3rd Report of Session 2005-06 that "there is some urgency for general targets for sustainable procurement to be agreed with local authorities. Central and local government representatives should enter into a dialogue to set such targets and to improve the promotion and dissemination of good practice".

  That said, a conflict between the idea of sustainable procurement and the principles, which underpin the implementation of Gershon may occur. Best value driven agendas may conflict with sustainability agendas. The case for sustainable procurement can be made from the principles of sustainable development alone. It should not be cost dependent but it is dependent upon effective data being available. There is still according to the EAC ( 2005-06) a "clearly undesirable tension between what is seen as cost effective and what is seen as sustainable procurement, a tension which needs to be resolved as a matter of urgency"

  Until such time as this tension is removed BSF projects are likely to suffer unduly.


  Each of the BSF projects is part of a wider programme, which has at its core the transformation of our educational environment. LAs and schools need to be partners in planning for such transformational change. The involvement of communities in developing an educational vision for their schools is crucial to the process of effective change. If the programme is to be successful local authority advisers must work with the local communities to establish their vision for their school of the future. Such a process will require time and facilitation expertise to succeed. Evidence to date is that the extent to which opportunities for such work to be undertaken has been variable. It will require commitment and funding if innovation focussed approaches to design of buildings is to be followed through with local communities.


  Schools have a significant role in helping secure the future for our young people. As learning environments they can assist young people in understanding the impact we have on our planet and why we need to adopt principles of sustainable living. The Government would like every school to be a sustainable school.

  Sustainability means finding solutions to improve of the quality of life of everyone without causing significant damage to our environment and storing up or transferring problems to the future. To make progress towards a healthier, more inclusive and sustainable society we need to embrace sustainable development.

  BSF should assist the process of moving towards a sustainable approach within education. However to do so BSF schools must embody the principles of sustainable development in that they should be

    (a)  models of healthy, local and sustainable food, prepared on site where possible with a strong commitment to the environment, social responsibility and animal welfare with the majority of food procured locally; and

    (b)  exemplars of energy efficiency a well as users of renewable energy sources whilst maximising their use of rain and waste water resources.

    (c)  The embodiment of sustainable travel principles with the majority of students walking or cycling to school and car journeys minimised.

    (d)  Models of resource efficiency, reducing the level of their consumption and implementing re-use and recycling procedures. They should also embody their beliefs by undertaking sustainable procurement policies and minimising the waste materials, which leave the school.

    (e)  Buildings designed and managed in such a way as to exemplify the principles of sustainable living with opportunities for students to learn from the buildings and grounds.

    (f)  Exemplars of corporate citizenship approaches with positive support for local well being and the environment through their position as learning hubs within their local environment.

    (g)  Focussed on the practice of global citizenship.

  To achieve sustainable schools will not simply be a matter of building or refurbishing the nation's school stock, although such a programme is sorely needed.

  Whilst the BSF programme is an ambitious programme which seeks to achieve widespread transformation in the learning process through a significant change in the learning environment there is a danger that it may fall significantly short of it ambitious targets.

  The nature of constant change within our society creates an immediate problem for the programme in that no one can be sure what education, as a process will look like in 25 or 50 years' time. Can we realistically design buildings for a process that is likely to change significantly over the next 25 years? Can we afford to invest in building structures, which may not be fit for purpose in 25 years' time because the nature of learning and learning environments has changed significantly, and have not been adequately designed to meet those changing needs?

  BSF may have as its primary task the development of a cultural change for education in the 21st century. If so, is the programme best placed to deliver on its outcomes in its present format?

  Well-designed working environments support effective and successful working practices, but physical innovation will not alone bring about successful change in our schools. It is only by adapting to a sustainability focus that impacts the curriculum, the pedagogic approaches, the systems and the structures of education that we might see schools becoming models of sustainability principles.

  Schools must exemplify sustainable development principles in the ways in which they operate and must have leadership teams who understand the need to effect constant change, which operates within the parameters of sustainability. The leadership teams of today's schools will require significant CPD in order for them to envision the framework for sustainable schooling required by BSF. Their present levels of understanding about sustainability are significantly low. To enable them to begin to realise the vision will require urgent and ongoing attention.

  The external constraints imposed by guidance documents which frame the BSF programme may ultimately, reduce significantly the impact of the programme. Whilst it is welcome to see LAs involved in the process there are difficulties inherent in attempting to develop the BSF process in conjunction with Every Child Matters and the Extended Schools programme. Conflicts are likely to surface.

  The capacity of the construction industry, through Public Private Partnerships to deliver BSF, whilst exemplifying sustainability principles through processes such as sustainable procurement may be at odds with the BSF KPI's and present construction industry practice.

  It is also apparent that investment from LAs may be further limited given the possible impact of Trust status school processes, which may develop in the near future. This raises the possibility of reduced input in developmental stages of programmes by school leadership teams, teachers, parents and the community.

  The quality of design will be crucial to the success of the BSF programme and this must be evaluated constantly and whilst BREEAM schools standards of "Very Good" apply to all projects it is surprising that "Excellent" is not the required standard for all BSF projects.

  Finally it is interesting to note that the exemplar school designs which are promoted through the PfS web site rarely, if ever, mention principles of sustainability as a driving force for this agenda.

June 2006

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