Examination of Witnesses (Questions 553-559)|
1 NOVEMBER 2006
Q553 Chairman: Could I welcome Jim Burke,
Chris Archer and Caroline Morland to our deliberations. I saw
Jim and Chris. Caroline, were you listening to that last session?
Ms Morland: Yes.
Q554 Chairman: I hope you found it
interesting. We certainly found it a very good session. We are
squeezed for time but we are going to get started. You listened
to that. Were they talking about the world that you inhabit? Did
it strike a chord with your experience?
Mr Burke: Certainly. I am the
principal of a new Academy which was built very much with sustainable
development in mind. It is a joint faith Academy serving a very
disadvantaged area of Liverpool. We moved into our new building
in September 2005, although it was not actually completed until
March 2006 so we had a phase of contractors on site. Nevertheless,
our Academy has many environmental features which were alluded
to, so we have been re-harvesting rainwater, using solar power,
we used recycled materials for part of the furniture infrastructure,
concrete mass structure (which obviously has thermal mass benefits),
photovoltaic cells, et cetera, so we feel very privileged that
we have got a lot of these sustainable features. Where I sympathise
with head teachers in the BSF process, though, is that I had 12
months of helping at the planning stage, so I was able to work
with architects, understand what the building was going to be
about, the features that it had. I had that opportunity also to
start planning the curriculum so that sustainability could be
integrated into the curriculum. My colleagues in BSF have to manage
their schools on a day-to-day basis at the same time as trying
to prepare for their new school, trying to take on board all the
issues of sustainability and crash courses in a day. I had 12
months, effectively, and so when people ask, "Can you skill
up heads very quickly?", I think that is going to be immensely
difficult in terms of everything else that a head teacher is supposed
to do. The other aspect is that we are very much a greenhouse
in the sense we have been closely monitored, and, to be fair to
the DfES, they have already produced case studies on sustainable
schools, and I know that because we feature in a booklet which
they recently produced. What they are starting to do is produce
a body of evidence to look at what schools should have if they
are to be truly sustainable.
Q555 Chairman: Why are you so good
Mr Burke: Because at the outset
our school's speciality was always going to be science/sustainability,
and so when the architects were engaged that was their brief:
"You have got to build a sustainable school."
Q556 Chairman: How did you make yourself
a good client? Why are you so good? The Independent says
you are Britain's greenest school. Have you been a secret environmental
warrior all these years?
Mr Burke: Aux contraire,
I was obviously very interested in the environment and sustainability,
but again I worked very closely with the architect and the builder.
Just post design stage the architect was engaged because he had
environmental sustainability credentials, but I was able to engage
with him at a very early stage, and indeed my senior management
team were able to engage with the architects at an early stage,
so we were part of that process. We came in looking at what would
the impacts of sustainability be on our students, on our curriculum,
on engaging the community, but effectively the architects themselves
were the people who were there as the experts, and really there
was a steep learning curve for us which they helped us with considerably.
Q557 Chairman: Chris, if you were
advising, what sort of back-up would you give in Nottingham if
you had got a new school, a new wave? Are you in the first wave?
Mr Archer: No, we are in wave
Q558 Chairman: You listened to the
last lot of evidence and you have now listened to Jim. Where are
you in all this?
Mr Archer: I think the first thing
to say is I learnt a great deal from the first set of evidence,
so I will make that quite clear from the outset. Secondly, from
the point of view of the position in which we find ourselves in
wave two, our first reference scheme schools and their head teachers
and management teams and their student bodywe have not
heard too much about the involvement of students in that whole
processare actively engaged in planning what their school
will look like when construction begins, we hope, in January 2008.
We are talking about a much better lead-in time than the lead-in
times that you have heard about thus far. I think it is also true
to say that we have put our emphasis at this stage on thinking
about what will the educational experience look like, what is
education looking like as we cast our eyes forward, what sort
of experience do we want those young people to have and what can
they tell us about the experience they are having now to help
us get it better for the future? The sustainability and environmental
issues are on the agenda, but they are a little bit further behind,
and it seems to me, having listened, that one of the crucial things
that I have heard this morning is that BREEAM, for example, is
not good enough. We are in the process of thinking, providing
we are heading for that BREEAM "excellent" standard,
then we are going to do what is necessary. If that is not the
case, we need to know quickly, because we do have a will to do
that but we can only do it with the best kind of advice.
Q559 Chairman: Have you gone to look
at schools like Jim's to learn lessons?
Mr Archer: We have not specifically
looked at Jim's school and we have not sought out schools on environmental
sustainability yet, although I think that we are minded to look
at those issues already. We have some primary schools in Nottingham
that already have some significant environmentally friendly features,
so we have got that on the agenda but it has not been a primary
focus as yet.