Examination of Witnesses (Questions 600-612)|
1 NOVEMBER 2006
Q600 Chairman: Oh, is it? Caroline,
what is your view on this?
Ms Morland: Just a couple of points.
I think there are some practical budget issues, particularly around
life cycle costing. When the capital budget is controlled by one
group and some of the operating costs over the next 25 years are
controlled by another group on design and build, the school will
pay the insurance premium or the local authority will, and it
will come out of a different pot. There are some logistical, financial
and practical problems and if you do not make the same people
responsible it is quite difficult to make good decision-making
around whole life costs.
Q601 Chairman: Is it not Chris's
team's job in any area where there is a Building Schools for the
Future project to balance the current capital costs with the long
Ms Morland: Yes, but he will also
be constrained by where he gets the money given to him and his
capacity to borrow against future savings in order to top up the
capital fund even if he knows on paper that it is that.
Q602 Chairman: If you had had the
local authority behind you, Jim, would you have gone for a sprinkler
Mr Burke: We were advised at the
time that it was not a requirement and, to be honest, when our
school was being costed it was at a time when it looked as though
the Academies' budget was getting out of control. I think the
advice was that it would have cost an extra 5% on capital cost,
or something like that, for a sprinkler system, so it was deemed
that we would not have one.
Ms Morland: To be honest, there
is conflicting information coming out from the insurance sector
as well about how much they value it and do not value it. It does
depend on the overall fire engineering of the building how much
difference a sprinkler system makes.
Chairman: Perhaps we should get an insurance
guru to tell us about that. Fiona?
Q603 Fiona Mactaggart: I was going
to ask you, Jim, a question which connects to this, which is you
used to run schools, and Cardinal Heenan was the one before the
present one; what is the difference in cost of running the building
at your present school and the previous schools that you have
Mr Burke: The modelling that was
carried out prior to construction indicated that energy costs
would make us one of the most efficient secondary schools in the
country. We are monitoring that very closely. In fact, Reading
University are monitoring energy use costs. The first year of
energy use has not been as efficient as the modelling would have
indicated, but people tell me that that is normal. The architects
reckon that it will take three years before the building settles
down so that we can really see excellent energy savings, but certainly
the detailed modelling which was carried out would indicate that
within two years from now we will be extremely energy efficient.
Q604 Fiona Mactaggart: But you have
not seen it in lower checks yet?
Mr Burke: Interestingly, the local
authority came round two weeks ago and they are comparing us with
PFI schools. Our square metreage is 7,800 square metres and we
were being compared with schools with 3,000 square metreage and
we were using less gas, for example, than they were, so already
we have seen some benefits.
Q605 Chairman: We saw a school down
in the West Country that really is energising its students to
be involved in the sustainability agenda. They have got an energy
group and the head there said once this independent group of students
got togetherand they have 22 different groups ranging from
recycling, a link partnership with an African school in a village
in The Congo and so onall these groups did not really cost
anything because, by and large, the energy group itself by turning
off lights and being energy conscious saves an enormous amount
of money. Do you energise your students?
Mr Burke: Absolutely. We have
eco councils in each year group and we have a school eco council
and they are the driving force behind a lot of the energy savings
and the waste management. They are involved in a lot of the decision-making
and that is how students, as you say, we are trying to prepare
consumers of the future, and this has been one mechanism which
we have already found to be very beneficial.
Q606 Chairman: Has anybody from Knowsley
been talking to you about their very ambitious programme?
Mr Burke: Yes, the BSF team from
Knowsley have visited us. We have had a few BSF teams.
Q607 Chairman: They seem to be doing
a standard model, are they not, a one-size-fits-all model. Is
Mr Burke: I am not sure, I could
Q608 Chairman: We are intending visiting
Ms Morland: I think they are but,
to be honest, Knowsley have got a track record over the last 10
years of consulting heavily at a collective level with all their
schools so their standardisation is part of an overall harmonious
and collaborative strategy and they are building on that, they
have not kept on that for BSF.
Q609 Chairman: Is there a Lego kind
of approach to it?
Ms Morland: I think there is a
lot further we can go in terms of commonalty. As you say, should
a school in inner city Liverpool generically be any different
from a school in inner city Manchester? I think we do have to
recognise that there are different curriculum models and pedagogic
styles and there is a policy around diversity and choice, so I
think that will drive differences in architecture, but I think
it will be around four, five, maybe half a dozen models and you
can standardise around that sort of suite. It is never going to
be identical but I think we can go a lot further in that direction.
Q610 Chairman: We are coming to the
end of this session and I have one last question, and that is
even if you get the BSF, you are all experienced professionals
in the sector, outside of Building Schools for the Future or the
Academies, is the Government doing enough to raise in school and
in local education authorities the question of environmental sustainability?
Mr Archer: I think that it could
figure more largely on the agenda being put forward through Building
Schools for the Future and through Partnerships for Schools. I
do not think it has figured as strongly in the guidance and the
national conferences and so on which you might have expected.
Mr Burke: It could do more, there
is no doubt about it, but it has started. Sustainable Schools
is now a major initiative. There is a longitudinal study on sustainability
Ms Morland: One thing that I would
say that I would view as very positive is almost all the local
authorities that we are coming across are very big on economic
sustainability for their towns and regions. They are really leading
and pushing that agenda and it is coming back through into the
supply chain that they are looking for local employment, local
sourcing. They want the retention of the BSF funding in their
cities and regions and they want that to be a multiplier effect,
so they are very much looking at the learning agenda and the employment
agenda and BSF is a big pump prime for that, and I would sponsor
that and advocate that as a good idea.
Q611 Chairman: It is linked to their
Ms Morland: Big time.
Q612 Chairman: If you were going
to give this Committee something that you wanted to be in our
report, and if we missed it out it would be not such a good report,
what should we have in that is close to your heart?
Mr Burke: Having been through
the process where I have had time to work with the architects
to understand the whole issue of sustainability, I would have
said time for heads and colleagues who are involved in the BSF
project to really get their heads around sustainability and the
implications of it.
Mr Archer: I would build on that
and say can you also reflect the tension between the expectation
and the excitement generated in communities for BSF with the need
for that planning cycle. You heard earlier on that these things
are having to happen very quickly, therefore there is not time
and I do recognise that that is a problem for us. Equally, if
the whole timeframe for BSF is so protracted, that excitement
and that community engagement withers because they do not believe
it is ever going to happen, so we have got to balance speed with
that sort of planning.
Ms Morland: I think it is echoing
my last point, it is putting the context of Sustainable Communities
into this, that schools are engines for skills and cultural and
economic growth for communities. It is not all about energy, it
is not all about resources; it is about people as well and it
has got to have that balance.
Chairman: That is a very good note on
which to end. Caroline, Chris, Jim, thank you very much for your
attendance, it has been most useful. We will swing by your school
if you are not careful!