UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE To be published as HC 981-i
HOUSE OF COMMONS
MINUTES OF EVIDENCE
TAKEN BEFORE THE
CHILDREN, SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES COMMITTEE
SUSTAINABLE SCHOOLS AND BUILDING
FOR THE FUTURE
TY GODDARD, STEVEN MAIR, DAVID
RUSSELL and RICHARD SIMMONS
Evidence heard in Public
Questions 1 - 93
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
This is an uncorrected transcript of
evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been
placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee, and copies have
been made available by the Vote Office for the use of Members and others.
Any public use of, or reference to,
the contents should make clear that neither witnesses nor Members have had
the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved
formal record of these proceedings.
Members who receive this for the
purpose of correcting questions addressed by them to witnesses are asked to
send corrections to the Committee Assistant.
Prospective witnesses may receive this
in preparation for any written or oral evidence they may in due course give
to the Committee.
Taken before the Children, Schools and Families Committee
on Monday 14 July 2008
Mr. Barry Sheerman, in the
Mr. Douglas Carswell
Mr. David Chaytor
Mr. Andy Slaughter
Mr. Graham Stuart
Examination of Witnesses
Ty Goddard, Director, British Council for School Environments, Richard Simmons, Chief Executive,
Commission on Architecture and the Built Environment, Steven Mair, Assistant Executive Director Resources and
Infrastructure, Children, Young People and Families, and David Russell, Building Schools for the Future Programme Manager, Barnsley Council, gave evidence.
Q1 Chairman: I now welcome
Ty Goddard, Richard Simmons, Steven Mair and David Russell. I apologise for the slight shortening of the
session, which is the result of the previous emergency session on the testing
system. Most of you were in for that, so
you will know that it was rather important.
Ty Goddard is director of the British
Council for School Environments. Richard
Simmons is chief executive of the Commission for Architecture and the Built
Environment. Steven Mair is assistant
executive director, resource and infrastructure, children, young people and
families for Barnsley council. David, I believe that you, too, are from Barnsley council.
I am the programme manager for Building Schools for the Future in Barnsley.
Q2 Chairman: I shall give
each of you a chance to say a little about BSF and where it is at the
moment. We do not need your biography or
your CV, just a quick minute and a half on how you see the programme at the
moment. Steven Mair?
Within Barnsley, we are taking out all our
secondary and specialist stages and replacing them with completely new build across
the whole borough in one wave. We see it
as a tremendous opportunity for the children, the pupils and learners within
the borough. Where we are in the process
is part-way through the competitive dialogue, and we are targeting a third
bidder in October. We have a tight and
condensed procurement programme, and assuming that we get to October our plan
is that all our estate will be replaced by 2011-12-within the next three to
four years. Combined with our primary
programme, that will put over half the children in Barnsley
in 21st-century schools within the next four years.
Q3 Chairman: Thank you for
I can only repeat what Steven said.
Chairman: I should have
known that you, being from Barnsley, would be
straight and succinct.
It is the same answer.
Q4 Chairman: Good. Ty Goddard?
In many ways, if we were to give a head teacher's report on building schools
for the future, we would say, "Very slow start to the task, but now seems
willing to listen to the advice of others."
For us, as an organisation with more than 300 members from both the
public and the private sectors all intimately involved in schools investment,
we have a sense of partnership for schools, and the Government are beginning to
Indeed, I think that the Committee's
seventh report "Sustainable Schools; Are we building schools for the future?"
played a major part in looking at this in terms of a system-wide response. What
we welcomed in the Committee's report was that you were able to take all the
key bits of that investment and look at them holistically. The head teacher would continue: "If this
investment is to reach its full potential, it needs to remember the original
question." The original question, as you
quite rightly said in your last report on BSF, was about the transformation of
teaching and learning in this country.
Q5 Chairman: Thank you for
that. Richard Simmons?
We have been running our design assessment programme with Building Schools for
the Future for a few months. We have
seen a relatively small number of projects.
We are reviewing all projects from wave 4 onwards, so it is at an early
stage. We are seeing measurable
improvements, by seeing projects through their first stage and then their final
bid stage. We do not think that the
quality is yet good enough, but there is a will from Partnerships for Schools
to improve it. There are some specific
areas that need improving, one of which Ty has just mentioned, such as
transformational education, sustainability strategies and so on. We are now seeing more new designs that are
better than the schools they are replacing, which is very positive. Design still needs to have a stronger
weighting in the selection of local education partnerships than it has at the
Q6 Chairman: Thank you. You have all been very succinct. Ty, we are always pleased when people say
nice things about reports, but that will not stop you getting some hard questions
from us. What worries those of us who
have followed through the reports on the progress of Building Schools for the
Future when we attend conferences and seminars is the fact that the visioning
process is very patchy between different local authorities. The Committee really welcomed it; Barnsley and other local authorities have given it a
chance. They have really thought about
the sort of secondary education provisions-long term, the whole bit-that we
want in the 21st century. Others that
have gone through the BSF process seem to have done so in a rather patchy and
pragmatic way. They do not seem to have
had a serious go at the vision. Is that
your experience, Richard Simmons?
Yes. At the moment, we are finding a
wide range of understanding about what the transformational education agenda
might mean. On our right is an authority
that seems to have approached it very well, thought about what it wants to
achieve, what kind of schools are needed and how to form a contract to achieve
that. Other authorities are finding it
less easy. We certainly welcome the fact
that Partnerships for Schools will now bring forward authorities that are ready
to go, rather than necessarily leaving them in serried ranks whether they are
ready to go or not.
We need more opportunity to have much
earlier conversations with local authorities about what they want to achieve
from the educational agenda, as well as simply replacing the capital
stock. No doubt Tim will say more about
that. We need further work done,
particularly on how to link the vision for education and the vision for the
actual design and management of a school.
Q7 Chairman: Ty Goddard, if
that is the case, and if you agree with it, who do you blame?
We are attempting not to blame anyone.
The key issue is who is responsible for owning the transformation of
teaching and learning. You are
right. The Committee will see a vast
spectrum of responses to the investment.
You spent a lot of time listening and talking to people from Knowsley
during the last report. The Knowsley
experience and the Barnsley experience would
be different from other authorities, but time and time again we have
underestimated how complex the job is of thinking through what teaching and
learning will be like in five or 10 years, let alone in 15 to 20 years.
In our evidence to the Committee this
time, we wanted to give you an opportunity to hear the views from the
ground. You will see from our evidence
that often we are not investing in change management properly. Too often, we think that transformation will
happen just because someone is shown a PowerPoint or someone mentions it 11
times in a speech. People who are
already pressured in terms of the leadership of schools or in respect of being
teachers in schools have to take part in a procurement process that, in itself,
does not stimulate the sort of new thinking and the time for thinking that we
need. People often succeed in developing
their visions in spite of the present procurement process, not because of it.
Q8 Chairman: Any comments?
We found that the idea of transformation, when we started discussing things
with schools, was fairly low key.
Obviously, we realised that our heads and their senior management team
had to go into new buildings and operate the new buildings from two years hence
pretty much seamlessly. In the two years
that we have been discussing transformation-the designs, briefs and visions-we
have seen a marked movement of their understanding of what transformation is,
to the point where we are almost accepting designs. We have two bids on at the moment.
We know that shortly after we have
chosen the designs, we shall look at them again and review them, because the
senior management teams have moved on significantly from the point where they
were three months ago. We are seeing the
senior management teams within the schools progressing in that thought
process. We are certainly seeing it with
our second phase schools as well-they are developing and moving much further
along the spectrum. It is gradually
moving, but we have to be aware that these senior management teams have to go
into schools in two or three years' time and still operate and produce the
outputs, in terms of education.
So we have had to deal with it with a
certain amount of tenderness, careful of the situation that we have been in
with the senior management teams. We can
certainly see that. Both our bidders
have very good design teams, very good educationalists. If you like, they have been pulling us
along. There is still room for some
movement. We think that that will happen
through the first phase, and certainly through the second and third phases. It is a moving process, but we have to be
very careful about how and at what point we commit and allow things to move on.
Q9 Chairman: Steven, do you
have anything to add to that?
The authority began the overall visioning process in 2003. I think that is a key point. We began it two years before we were actually
receiving the BSF funding-or the announcement that we were going to get
it. That is very important. We started with a strategic approach. We engaged with our heads very early on,
because we want to continue step change in learning and we had a number of
school places issues to address. What we
have tried to look at is overcoming some of the disadvantages and the
barriers. In our case, we are not simply
producing schools-we term them "advanced learning centres", and we are wrapping
care and other provision around them.
An example of a barrier would be a
child in one corner of the borough having to go to another corner of the
borough to receive a service. If we can
bring the services to the child, that helps attainment, because the child is not
out of the school, and it focuses people on the child and not on the service,
which is what this is all about. We are
also looking at the pattern of the school day.
You can find some schools at the moment that can open at 8.30 or can
shut at 2.30. We are going for extended
hours-8 in the morning until 10 at night, bringing in full community facilities
as well. The key thing is that the
visioning process has to start early, and BSF is simply a vehicle to deliver
changes in learning, which we term "remaking learning".
Chairman: Thank you for
that. We shall open up the questioning
now. May I just say that it is a
pleasure to see two young people at the back of the Committee today who would
be, will be and are using schools at the moment? It is very nice to have you here. We do not often have the real consumers
present. Thank you for being here.
Q10 Mr. Chaytor: In respect of the concerns about
procurement, is part of the problem the elaborate structure that was set up
through the local education partnerships?
Had we not had the LEP structure, could local authorities have got on
with procurement more quickly? I suppose
that is a question to someone from Barnsley
first, but also to Ty and Richard perhaps.
I do not think it is the LEP association.
We fully accept that it is a very complex process. I think there are some improvements. Our colleagues are becoming pragmatic as we
go along, and we are moving things along more quickly. What we have to remember, certainly in our case,
is that we are transforming the entire estate.
For Barnsley, this is a massive
financial investment. It is a £1
billion-plus contract. We want to get
this right. We will get this right. We will improve learning as a
consequence. We think it is well worth
the investment in time and money that the council and the schools are putting
in to get this right. The contract
period is 25 years. Some elements of the
school design life are 60 years. Quite
frankly, we are probably putting up schools now that will be here next
century. It is worth that time and
investment to get it right.
A tremendous advantage that we see is
the competitive dialogue process. As
David described, we have two very good bidders.
They are committed to the scheme and we are pushing them through the
process. Keeping them in competition and
pushing them, we are getting advantages out of that. That is what we intend to continue doing
until we are totally content that what we are getting is right.
One of the critical issues is the fact that the LEP is a partnership that will
last for some considerable time. As we
have heard, a lot of the focus at the moment is on what happens up front-the
first round of schools. As we said in
our submission, about 80% of schools built by such programmes will not be part
of the initial bid. The question is
about how to maintain and sustain the partnership, and secondly, how to keep
innovating so as to pick up on the transformational education agenda as we go
The Commission for Architecture and
the Built Environment's position is that all procurement methods produce bad
buildings. There is evidence for
that. It is about how they are managed
and used. The more the procurement
process is used to produce a partnership that will stick together, deliver in
the long run and deliver changes in how IT might be used in schools over the
years, for example, the better the results will be. At the moment, not enough weight is given to
design up front, and we are concerned to ensure that the momentum continues
after the partnership is formed.
Initially, the ambition for BSF was vast.
All the views from the ground seem to focus on the complexity of the
procurement process. The changes that
have been announced and are due to roll out are welcome. Partnerships for Schools listened to industry
and people in local government. However, we still have a system that wastes
money that should be spent on schools.
It duplicates effort from world-class designers and builders, and it
costs our colleagues in local authorities a vast amount to do it properly.
Q11 Mr. Chaytor: So where is the waste?
Ty Goddard: There are high costs for bidders and the
bidding teams have to draw up designs that may never be used. They must be drawn up to a late stage, so
they are highly detailed designs. There
is a sense out in the country, and you have seen evidence from the Royal
Institute of British Architects, that we seem to be besotted with having to put
things in OJEU, the Official Journal of the European Union, when local
authorities have spent years looking at procurement frameworks that they
already have. We seem to be almost
besotted with the process of the process, rather than allowing latitude.
Because of the underspend, because targets were not reached, we had what were
called one school pathfinders. Although
complex at times, they have got rid of many of the hoops and the testing that
seems to go on.
Although we have had best practice
recommendations from the world of construction and big reports such as Latham
and Egan, which explored how to find a partner, we have a procurement process
that was probably fit for purpose in 2000, 2001 or 2003 when BSF was
created. Is it up to speed and can it
respond to the new agendas that we have now in our schools on children's
services, regeneration and the big issue, which was not even mentioned at the
Q12 Mr. Chaytor: The Royal Institute of British
Architects has suggested that one way to shorten the procurement process
further is through what it calls smart PFI.
What is that?
Or smart BSF as it also calls it. The
voices of RIBA and CABE would want to join in a critique of the procurement
process and an attempt to work through a design with a local authority,
supporting that local authority with experts in design. The Jo Richardson community school in Barking
and Dagenham was procured and commissioned using a smart PFI route-the
Committee may have visited the school.
The design was drawn up and put out to the market. If we are talking about transformation in
real time, rather than on paper, some have suggested, including RIBA and
others, that this is worth testing. What
has always baffled me is why we have not piloted or attempted to test different
types of procurement. We demand that
areas such as Barnsley innovate, we demand
that our schools innovate, and yet, we are locked into a procurement process
that probably has non-innovation at its heart. It demands that people make decisions
when their knowledge is least and that they meet bid team after bid team when
their time is short. Learning
technologies are moving so fast that the procurement process may create a
Q13 Mr. Chaytor: Do you think that the Department could
publish a booklet suggesting half a dozen different models of procurement, in
the way that it published one some time ago suggesting half a dozen different
designs for schools?
I was in one of our major shire counties on Thursday, visiting schools. Those schools have been procured using the
framework that they already had. What we
are seeing, which was in CABE evidence, is that there is a fracturing of the
procurement process already, but let us do that by design, not by accident.
Q14 Mr. Chaytor: Was that quicker for that county
I think it was. In the evidence that you
have got from Knowsley, there is a table that suggests two years for the
may want to comment themselves.
Chairman: I am conscious
that each section here is short because of the previous sitting, so one person
to each question-rattle them off, please.
I am sorry it has to be like this; it is the time constraints around us.
Q15 Mr. Chaytor: Okay, a final question: in terms of the
partnerships, who dominates? Is it the
local authority as manager; is it the voice of head teachers and teachers, in
terms of the practicalities of this work; is it the construction industry; or
is it the architects?
From our experience, it is a bit early to say.
We are seeing examples of all those things: we are seeing some very
dominant local authorities with a clear vision for what they are trying to
achieve; some powerful contractors who are trying to drive the process in the
direction that they want to go; and some opinionated architects, but many of
them go in the end. It is probably a bit
early to say who is going to be the dominant force, but ultimately, the key
issue is that this has to be designed for the benefit of the young people who
will be in the school. We would like to
see in the system the young people themselves and the educationalists really
empowered to deliver.
Q16 Mr. Chaytor: My next question is to Barnsley. You said, Steven, that you started the
visioning process in 2003, but in terms of IT in learning, a lot has happened
in the last five years and even more will happen in the next five years. To what extent are you confident that you are
building an IT infrastructure that will be sufficiently flexible to allow for
I agree; it is a developing field. If we
could all see 20 years ahead in ICT, it would be tremendous, but we are
confident that we are building something that will be sustainable. The IT contract is for five years, unlike
that for the buildings. We are building
in a refresh after five years, so we can look at what has come along. In five or 10 years' time, children might be
bringing in laptops or personal digital assistants themselves, as with
calculators now. We are working with our
partners and our advisers and thinking forward as far as we can, but we are not
committing to more than five years and we are putting aside enough money, so
that in five years we can revisit that and make sure that we are not locked
into something that is out of date.
Chairman: Moving on to
educational sustainability, Annette, you are going to lead us.
Q17 Annette Brooke: Yes, I think that that follows on
rather nicely. I do not think that I
have quite got a handle on designing schools for the long term, because we
could divide that up into all sorts of time periods. To some extent, that must almost be looking
into a crystal ball, in terms of what you are trying to achieve. As you have just touched on the five-year
chunks of time, Steven, perhaps I could start with you. How much have you built into the projects the
visions for different time periods ahead?
You have mentioned 10 years, but what about into the next century? How have you coped with that?
As I said, we started with an authority-wide vision. We have individuals from
each school, so we are very much making these personalised buildings. They are
not imposed by the council. It is extremely important to get buy-in from the
people-the pupils, teachers and heads-who will be using them in future.
The key thing that we are trying to
build in is flexibility and adaptability, because, as you quite rightly say,
who can see so many years ahead? We are building in break-out spaces and
flexible walls, so there could be a classroom of 30 next to another classroom
of 30, but the wall comes apart so that you could have a class of 60 with two
teachers-one teaching the majority of the children, or all of a level and one focusing
on those who need additional help. There are differential levels within
We are trying to take on board ICT as
far as we can, such as video conferencing. A lesson could be put around the
whole borough, again freeing up teachers to focus on those with particular
additional needs. We are building in the children's services agenda, which a
colleague referred to-this wrap-around care. They are not schools; they are
advanced learning centres. We will have all our professionals at least hot-desking
in those schools, including the welfare service and the youth service. We are
engaging with our partners, the primary care trust and the police, and they
will be on site. As far as possible-nobody can ever get it totally right-we are
thinking and making things as flexible as we can to accommodate what comes on
Q18 Annette Brooke: May I move to the other end of the
table with a slightly different emphasis? Are all the issues that we have just
touched on regular features of discussions in BSF projects?
Annette Brooke: They really are?
They certainly are now that the Commission for Architecture and the Built
Environment is reviewing each local education partnership's proposals before
they come to final contract. Our assessment method, which is fairly structured,
is to look at a whole range of issues about flexibility and whether learning
environments can change over time. We are very interested in ICT and how
schools might adapt, so we might build an ICT room but, with changes such as I
have just described, it can be used for another purpose.
Another thing is building for the long
term. We are increasingly clear now that we have to make schools that are going
to be environmentally sustainable. That means that sustainability has to be
driven into the design of the school from the outset. We know for sure that we
will need to have schools that rely much more on passive ventilation-in other
words, air that moves through the building without being driven through it. We
have to use natural light as much as we can, and we are starting to see that
become a much stronger feature of school design. All those things are being
To go back to the beginning of the
conversation, some authorities-Barnsley is a
good example-understand these issues now, and others are still learning about
them. We have to get the message out from the more successful partnerships that
are developing to the newer partnerships that will develop in the future about
how to go about ensuring that they are planning for the long term.
Q19 Annette Brooke: We look around and see masses of
empty office buildings that will probably never be filled. Will we need all
these school buildings in the future?
I think probably we will, because I am not sure that all those office buildings
will be in the right place for the young people whom we want to use them.
Q20 Annette Brooke: No, I was not meaning using the
office buildings. I meant that workers can work from home and therefore share
desks, and maybe pupils will not go into a physical building every day in years
I think that the long-term vision for schools is that they will become a hub
for a wider group of people in the community. Young people will be staying on
later, until they are 18, so pathways to work, for example, will become much
more important to schools. It seems to me that the school could in some ways
become a much more important focal point.
I am not sure whether everybody will
be at school for the same hours as now, but some of the support that needs to
be delivered to young people-Barnsley have referred to this-is well delivered
through something that is local to people's neighbourhood and perhaps more open
to the community than many schools have been. The Jo Richardson school, for
example, which we talked about earlier, has its sports facilities and library
shared with the community. I think that in future we will see work spaces being
shared so that businesses can be connected much more to their future work force
in schools and so on. I think that they are going to become more important in
future, but probably quite different from how they are designed now.
Q21 Annette Brooke: Right; going back to Steven, how much
vision have you done on how teaching and learning will change with the shape of
the building, or vice versa?
We are working very heavily with our colleagues in schools on that. We have
what we call "learning stars", who at the moment are 50 of our best and most
innovative teachers. They are working with colleagues in the BSF team, being
made aware of the extra resources that will be made available to them. They are
testing different curriculum designs. We
have a whole authority day in October, when they will come together with the
pupils and the teachers, reflecting on what has worked. The key thing is not to get to the opening of
the new buildings and suddenly start thinking "We'd better start innovating on
teaching and learning." We want to be in
there on day one, and really making these work as best we can.
This is not a buildings programme in
isolation. It is not a teaching and
learning programme in isolation. We have
our BSF team; we have our advisory team; and we work very closely together on
that, so that we get the best out of both.
Q22 Annette Brooke: Ty, that is very visionary, but is it
going to work like that?
I respect not only Barnsley's optimism but Barnsley's
sense of asking the really difficult questions, which are: what sort of
education do we want and what kind of spaces will support that? That transformation, I think, is going to be
difficult. It is going to need a higher
level of support. It is going to need a
process that actually meaningfully involves teachers and young people in
sharing and telling us, as adults, what kind of spaces they learn best in. Also, it should allow the meaningful
involvement of teachers. Too often teachers are the ones who are not
consulted. Teachers are the ones who are
not supported. I do not think that the
transformation that you are seeing in Barnsley
will necessarily be shared all over the country.
We have to be optimistic. We must celebrate this investment. We have had a culture for many decades of
being experts at patch and mend and make do in our schools. With that leap from deciding where the bucket
goes under the leaky roof to beginning to think through what the future holds,
as David said, the impetus of technology is going to be absolutely enormous.
Q23 Annette Brooke: A very quick question: to what extent
have Government been leading the process of the interrelationship; or to what
extent have they been following?
Leadership is absolutely crucial. We
have a chief executive at Partnerships for Schools now who has experience of
local government and procurement. He has
said publicly time and again that he wants to go further in terms of loosening
up the procurement process, making it much less expensive for bidders, and much
less onerous for local authorities to actually begin to build these
I think we need leadership from
Government. One of the main points of
your last report was that we need to begin to define what we actually mean by
transformation within education. The nature of leadership in other countries is
different around teaching and learning.
Here we seem to have in many ways become quite hands-off, and I think,
often, the bidding process is used for something that it should not be, which
is to explore different visions. A
bidding process is not the best place.
Finally, we are not learning as a
nation. Where is the post-occupancy
evaluation? We are building lots and
lots of schools, but nowhere do we listen to the users and what they think
about these buildings. Nowhere do we
collect proper energy data. How can you
have sustainable schools when you do not know what energy is being used in your
present schools? So I am talking about
meaningful stakeholder engagement; a procurement process that really focuses on
teaching and learning and the involvement of learners and teachers; and
actually beginning to capture some of the lessons that we know are out there.
It goes beyond design review panels, if I may say so respectfully to CABE; it goes
to the heart of how you learn as a country and how you feed that information
Q24 Chairman: You said nice
things about Tim Byles and the process at the beginning, and you end up saying
they are not doing their job.
I said all sorts of things about Tim Byles.
I have said that I think we finally have a leader of Partnerships for
Schools who knows the terrain.
Q25 Chairman: Let us go to
the end bit, though, about post-evaluation-
Ty Goddard: That is what I think would be useful.
Q26 Chairman: Well, you have
been saying that Tim Byles has been ignoring it.
Goddard: I do not think he has been completing ignoring
Chairman: All right.
With your help, we can make this a system of investment that has improvements
at its heart.
I wanted to say that no bit of Government at the moment is following the Office
of Government Commerce and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury's instruction
that they should do post-occupancy evaluation.
In fact, PFS has started doing that on projects now, so we will start to
see it coming through the system. It is
Chairman: We leaned
heavily, apparently, on the Office of Government Commerce to get the last
contract that we discussed in this Committee a short time ago.
Q27 Mr. Stuart: Is
environmental sustainability lost among the myriad demands in the BSF
It is one of the areas that we see as an area for improvement. We see several things that are getting much
better very quickly, including things such as circulation in schools and how
food gets served at lunchtimes. At the
moment, we are not seeing enough projects driven by a proper sustainability
strategy. Quite often, we are seeing
that the technical side of sustainability is not strong enough. Simple things, such as which way the building
faces on the site to take best advantage of the sun, natural light and so on,
are not necessarily driving projects at the moment, so we would like to see
greater improvement on that.
To be fair to the people designing
schools, that is, again, not unique to schools.
It is an issue that we come across in design review all the time. Outside schools design review, we have seen
about 700 projects in our full design review panel over the last two years and
we reckon only about seven of those had a proper sustainability strategy that
we would respect. It is an important
issue. We have not gone far enough
yet. This Committee's work in reviewing
the issue has been quite helpful in driving the agenda forward, but we would
like to see a lot more improvements in that area.
Q28 Mr. Stuart: But we have a
Government who would like to be a global leader on climate change, and we have
multi-billion pound expenditure-a quite extraordinary investment-and you are
telling us that it does not deliver the most fundamental, basic environmental
approaches. If schools are being built
and they do not even work out, from an environmental point of view, which way
they are facing, where the light comes in and what their energy use is likely
to be, there is something pretty fundamentally wrong, is there not?
We have a big issue about skills in this area in the country at the moment, and
an industry that is not yet used to the kinds of building that are being
demanded of it by the kinds of brief that are coming forward. Again, those from Barnsley
might want to say more about what they have been doing on that front.
Q29 Chairman: Do you mean there are architects who do not
know which way a building should face?
We have architects who certainly do not know how to design low-energy and high
natural light buildings. They have been
used to designing buildings with a lot of air conditioning, lots of artificial
lighting and very high intensity energy usage.
As I think I said to the Committee last time, we are also seeing quite a
few buildings coming through where the energy strategy does not take account of
the amount of IT that is being put into the building, for example. We are seeing an industry that needs to learn
faster. At the moment, we are not
satisfied that we are getting the best we could, but the industry, in every sector,
is still struggling with this agenda.
Sustainability is very much a key item in what we are doing. We have a number of initiatives, and Dave can
add to this. For example, all our
schools will be 100% biomass heated, which is a carbon neutral source. We will have BREEAM-BRE environmental
assessment method-ratings of excellent.
We are looking at cooling as well as heating to try to take account of
the forthcoming issues that we all know about.
We are looking at the potential for wind turbines, which is still
subject to negotiation with our bidders, but a lot of this comes down to
leadership by the authority, because this is not particularly driven by our
The essence of the problem is that PFI in itself does not really allow for
sustainability, because a bidder will put in a bid that gives him good marks
and fulfils the criteria of the output spec, but energy is basically down to
the client. The client pays for energy,
so there is no impetus for the PFI bidder to put things in, because they do not
improve his bid. In Barnsley,
we recognise that. We have been through
a 13-primary PFI scheme, and a lot of fine words were said about
sustainability, but nothing really came out of it. We put in half a million pounds per scheme
for our nine advanced learning centres, basically for enhanced sustainability
issues, and that is paying for the list of items that Steve mentioned.
We are also considering enhanced
passive cooling, which has been mentioned. We are looking at putting into the
building some infrastructure to allow for future climate change. We are
considering enhanced under-floor heating-sized coils in the floor, and
absorption chilling, which is a way of chilling a building using a boiler. I
know that seems a contradiction, but it is based on biomass heating. Those are
all things that we have actively promoted in our scheme and not things that you
would necessarily get within a PFI-procured system. That is what we are doing.
Q30 Mr. Stuart: Where is the
biomass taking place? Where is the power being burned?
Localised boilers from each of the adult learning centres. The biomass itself
will be harvested locally. Barnsley has some
pedigree in biomass boilers. Its recent council offices are biomass-powered, as
are a couple of major new developments.
Q31 Mr. Stuart: But that
bears out Ty's earlier remark about the fact that authorities such as yours
take the issue seriously. They are not box ticking. They are doing so despite
the procurement process, rather than because of it.
We are doing it on top of, as well as leading the procurement process. As I
mentioned to colleagues earlier, it is important that we have leadership in
Government, but it is very important that we have leadership and skills in the
authorities because we are the people who will be running the institutions for
the next 25 or 50 years.
Q32 Mr. Stuart: Does anyone
want to comment on the Department for Children, Schools and Families' environmental
sustainability taskforce and its effectiveness?
It is early days for that taskforce. There has been lots of discussion. The
Government have produced case studies-not always successful with regard to
energy usage. We have sharp rhetoric, yet at school level we still have
confusion about sustainability and how to prioritise it and prioritise
solutions within the process. There is a sense that there are technical answers
all the time. For example, putting a windmill on the roof of a school equals
sustainability. That was put to me in the phrase eco-bling. Eco-bling does not
necessarily equal sustainability.
Chairman: We were not
dazzled by that.
I am your straight man.
Stuart: Aren't we all?
Some of us may be, and some may not.
Chairman: It must be the
end of term.
That taskforce is hopefully going to be useful. It is owned by the profession.
I do not think that Richard is entirely correct when he says that we do not
have the skills as a country or a profession. The profession is thinking far
ahead. Arup gave evidence in the last report. It is a global leader in such
issues and seriously pointed the way to how we begin to think about
sustainability in our schools.
Q33 Mr. Stuart: I am trying
to capture this. What you are telling us is that Barnsley
is a lead authority. It has taken an interest in this and has been ahead of the
game. Authorities that have all the opposite qualities rarely turn up to give
evidence to us. There tends to be more of them than there are of this kind. The
picture that you seem to be painting is of a pretty disastrous failure to
deliver environmental sustainability on a consistent basis across this
incredibly large investment. Is that fair?
Richard Simmons: I think that there is a way to
Q34 Mr. Stuart: How
disastrous is it? It sounds pretty calamitous.
I have to declare an interest in the taskforce because one of our
commissioners, Robin Nicholson, chairs it. The point about skills is that there
are organisations, such as Arup, that have the skills. The question is whether
there are enough of them in the right places at the right time. The evidence of
what we are seeing at the moment at CABE is that there are not yet enough
people in the right place at the right time or enough clients who are making
the right demands.
It is a fixable problem because
schools in Norway or Germany
are already achieving very high standards.
It is about making sure that the standards are out there and that those
who will be the clients understand them.
It is also about making sure, as colleagues from Barnsley
have said, that the bidders know that it is on the agenda and that somebody who
is capable will be checking it to make sure that it is being delivered.
Q35 Mr. Stuart: My
constituency was particularly badly affected by the floods last year. What reassurance can you give us that schools
will be built with flooding in mind, and be sensibly placed and protected?
It is important to recognise that sustainability is not just about zero
carbon. It is about a whole range of
things, including how to deal with storm weather events in the future. From what we have seen, it is difficult to
say that that is a serious consideration.
Not many schools have been put before us that are in areas of high flood
risk, but that is certainly on the list of issues that we shall be wanting to
It would be unfair to use the words "disastrous failure". It is a long journey. It is incumbent on us that we fully and
properly respond to the challenge but, once again, latitude within a
procurement process may make some of those issues easier to grapple with and
understand. I do not know whether
colleagues from Barnsley want to comment, but
there is often confusion in whole-life costings for new technologies.
Q36 Mr. Stuart: Typically,
water-heating pumps are vast users of electricity. Europe's
largest pump manufacturer told me last week that that always gets squeezed out
in the PFI. As a result, it ends up selling
a pump that is not energy-efficient.
That is just a disaster. It is
not cost-effective for the operator of the school or for any other
facility. Will Barnsley
tell us that it will put in high-efficiency pumps each time?
We go back to the biomass, which we are putting into every advanced learning
centre and special school, which are carbon-neutral for the whole of heat.
To me, it is critical that the partnership is responsible in the longer term
for everything to do with the school.
If, as you say, the client ends up with the energy bill, there is no
incentive in the system to make sure that you build in such technology. If you invest up front, you will save money
in the long run so it is a good idea to share the savings and the benefits.
Q37 Paul Holmes: When we were taking evidence and
visiting schools for the first inquiry, there seemed to be a general trend that
either sustainable measures were squeezed out because the up-front costs could
not be afforded or because individual schools had just not thought about
it. Why is the Barnsley
experience different? You talked about
pump-priming. Does that mean you are
putting in money other than BSF money?
Is it also better in Barnsley because
you are planning it as an authority, rather than as, say, 20 individual schools
doing the wrong thing?
Barnsley council and its schools are putting
in a considerable amount, over and above what the Government have given. In effect, our scheme is 60% funded by the
Government and 40% funded by Barnsley and its
schools. It is its number one priority,
and there is a major investment going on.
As for sustainability, we have targeted it. We are well aware of it, along with many
other issues, and we have put specific funding to one side to make sure that we
achieve it because we can see the benefits going forward.
Q38 Paul Holmes: Are schools getting involved in the same
sort of pattern? How much flexibility do they have within your framework?
We are not imposing one standard of design or anything like that on
schools. For cost-efficiency purposes,
about 80% of the build will be the same and 20% will be personalised. All our schools are drawing up their own
vision and their own reference scheme, and working fully with the
authority. The worst thing in the world
is to impose a model on schools, because they are working in it, and they need
to own it and inspire it. They need to
make it work, and that is what we are doing.
It might cost a little more, but the figures are not big compared with
motivating and raising attainment for pupils and teachers in the next 25 to 50
Q39 Chairman: This is a very
interesting session. I am sure that we
could go on for much longer, but I have a quick question to ask Richard or Ty
before we finish. We notice that big
contractors have a large number of BSF PFIs.
You have talked about skills, capacity and innovation. The programme has been going for some years
now. Surely they have the skills? Are not some of the big contractors-not only
Arup, but others-leading in innovation?
We are still learning a lot about how to deliver sustainability, for
example. At the moment, I do not think
that the whole industry is learning as rapidly as the best bits of it. In another part of my life, I am involved in
Constructing Excellence, whose members tend to be ahead of the rest of the
industry on these sorts of issues. It is a question of whether your business is
focused on these kinds of improvements, and some are more so than others.
Q40 Chairman: I am afraid
that that is the end of the session. I thank you very much, particularly the Barnsley people.
Jeff Ennis used to be on the previous Committee, and Barnsley
was the most mentioned place name. We have done him proud by hearing that your
experience is innovative and useful, so thank you.
Thank you, too, Ty Goddard and Richard
Simmons. Will you remain in conversation with us? A regular update on BSF will
take place. A large amount of taxpayers'
money is involved, and we will keep coming back to it. If you go away and think
of things that you should have said to the Committee or things that should have
been asked, will you get in contact with us?
Examination of Witness
Tim Byles, Chief Executive, Partnership for Schools, gave evidence.
Q41 Chairman: On behalf of
members of the Committee, I welcome the next witness, Tim Byles. Some of us
know that he has a passion for Shakespeare in schools, and some of us know that
he was formerly the chief executive of a local authority in the eastern region.
Welcome to our proceedings. You have heard a lot of the previous session, and
we are going to give you a chance. You saw what was said in our report, which
was not badly received when it came out. You heard from the evidence that Ty,
Richard and the Barnsley people were giving
that not all the criticisms in our report have been answered. Where are we with
BSF, from where you are sitting?
Thank you, Chairman. I am glad to be in front of the Committee again and to
have the opportunity to brief you on the progress in the programme since I last
gave evidence, back in December 2006.
Q42 Chairman: You had just
been appointed, had you not?
Indeed. I was just about to refer to that.
It was a particular pleasure, if a bracing one. I had been in the job
for only five weeks when I appeared last time, and quite a lot has happened
since. I would like to take the opportunity to mention some of it.
As you will see from the short
hand-out that we have circulated, when I arrived at Partnerships for Schools in
November 2006 two local authorities had been through the procurement process
and selected a private sector partner. Today, that number stands at 21. Then, a
few early quick-win schools had opened their doors; today, we have 13 open,
with that number set to more than double this autumn and rise to about 200
schools per annum in the next few years. Some 80 of the 150 top-tier
authorities are now in the programme, and about 1,000 schools are somewhere
between design and delivery in BSF.
So there has been significant progress
since I was last here. Indeed, 2007-08 was the first financial year in which
PFS met or exceeded all its delivery targets. I am confident that we are on
track to repeat that progress this year, after a slow start in BSF, which was
the subject of much of our discussion last time.
Clearly, success should not be
measured just in terms of deals done or bricks and mortar. When I arrived at
PFS, much of the public scrutiny of the programme had focused purely on its
time scales. It was welcome to have a discussion in the Committee, and read in
your report, about having a focus on quality as well and recognising the
potential of the programme to help transform life chances for millions of young
As the delivery agency for BSF and for
academies, it is the job of Partnerships for Schools to ensure that the
programme delivers on time and on budget. We are on track to do that, but it is
more important that the programme delivers on its ultimate objective, which is
to help transform educational delivery for every young person, no matter what
their background. That focus on quality is what has driven a number of changes
that we have made to the processes that help to deliver BSF, and it is helpful
to think about those in three parts. There is a difference between early
projects, which are often focused on in BSF, and those that are going through
the system now.
If I may, I shall mention two or three
changes that we have introduced. First, on pre-procurement, we have tried to
make sure that the vision of the local authority is sufficiently ambitious and
bold, and that the local authority is ready to hit the ground running early, on
entry to the programme. You heard from
the previous witnesses about some issues in early procurement, where the
procurement process was being used as a means of refining the objectives of the
programme. Those pre-procurement changes
have improved the time by up to 30% for local authorities-a reduction of nearly
six months through starting earlier and being better prepared.
Secondly, on procurement, we have
streamlined the process within EU requirements, which will deliver significant
savings to BSF at a programme level-up to £250 million. That will help to ensure that the market is
vibrant and that there are enough players to compete, in order to deliver a
value-for-money solution. Thirdly, we
are now engaged in a review of the operational phase, checking and challenging
how local education partnerships are operating in practice, and how they are
delivering value for money to the public purse.
Those three changes have secured some
significant reductions in the delivery timetable-up to eight months in
total-and cost savings. I am more
encouraged, however, because they provide a much better platform with which to
ensure that BSF delivers learning environments in which every young person can
do their best and can reach for excellence.
We are already starting to see tangible results from that through
independent review work. The National
Foundation for Educational Research has conducted some research on Bristol
Brunel academy, our first local education partnership-delivered school, which
has given tangible and significant improvements in attendance, aspirations and
We are seeing good results on
refurbishment schemes as well. For
example, in Sunderland, the Oxclose
School has already seen
an improvement on GCSE results, from 24% of pupils attaining A to C grades in
GCSEs, including English and maths, up to 41% last summer, and the forecast is
that that will exceed 50% this summer.
The last point that I would like to
mention in these opening remarks is to highlight the importance that we give to
learning lessons, gathering lessons learned, and sharing them in the BSF
community. We have increased our
activity on that front significantly over the last 20 months: introducing a
national learning network for BSF; re-launching our website, with dedicated
spaces for learning from experience, from which e-mail alerts are issued to the
BSF community as new lessons are learned; a quarterly publication sent to all
local authorities and the private sector, highlighting learning and experience;
a comprehensive calendar of conferences, including sector-specific ones on ICT
and design already this year; and we have started a programme of BSF open days,
where local authorities and the private sector will be invited to a new BSF
school, to hear direct from the partners involved in delivery, the challenges
and issues that they face. The first one
is to take place in the Michael Tippett school in Lambeth this autumn, a school
that I think you visited recently, Chairman.
Finally, for the avoidance of doubt, there is to be a post-occupancy
evaluation of every BSF school, as we announced earlier this year. The gathering of that kind of information is
important for the sharing of best practice-what has worked and what has worked
less well. I am very keen that we do
When I gave evidence to the Committee
back in 2006, I made it clear then that we would continue to learn throughout
BSF. That is still my firm belief. It is about helping to transform lives, and we
at BSF will continue to work with and challenge local authorities, the private
sector partners and ourselves, to do our best to ensure that we make the most
of this opportunity.
Chairman: Let us start by
drilling down on the procurement process.
Q43 Mr. Carswell: I have a couple of questions. There is a massive amount of expenditure,
putting a lot of our money on to the balance sheet of a few big
corporations. Some people say that when
it comes to defence procurement, a few small contractors have got the process
rigged in their favour. Is that
happening with this? Are there a few
lucky ones who put all that public money on to their balance sheets because
there are barriers to entry?
No, that is not true of BSF. We
currently have 21 active bidding consortiums into BSF and we have three new
entrants coming into the market at the moment.
An issue for us, as we think about the way in which the programme rolls
out, is how to balance the breadth of market activity with the capacity and
ability to learn. We are not seeing the
reduction that some other programmes have seen.
You mentioned defence, and health is another example where there is
quite quickly a consolidation down to a small number of consortiums. That has not been the case so far in BSF.
Q44 Mr. Carswell: How can that be? If you constrain the supplier in any market,
the seller sets the terms of trade.
PricewaterhouseCoopers did a report that, for example, allowed for more
comprehensive pre-qualification for bidding consortiums, and more focus on
effective partnering issues. Those are all barriers to entry, are they not?
I do not think so. We have been careful
to try to ensure that they are not barriers to entry. What is interesting is that, since the launch
and approval of the procurement review, we have seen three new entrants. A range of factors influences activity in the
market. Success is one-we have seen some
people moving in and out-and the balance of the consortium is a second, but we
are certainly not seeing a reduction on the basis of that activity.
Q45 Mr. Carswell: Do you have any data, which we could
perhaps make available afterwards, that would show exactly how the money had
been spent-where the direct recipients are and what range of businesses are
getting a share of the market?
Yes, we can certainly publish, and do publish, the successful consortiums by
local authority area, as they achieve success in BSF. There is not a problem in making that
available. We also publish the scale of
activity earlier in the process. The
process begins with a number of bidders expressing an interest. There is then a
shortlisting down to three and then two bidders, prior to the real competition,
as it were. There is no shortage of
information around, in relation to the market.
Q46 Mr. Carswell: In order to squeeze better value for
money out of every tax pound spent, is there anything that you would like
actively to do now that would expand the range of bidders-I am not talking
about what has happened, but going forward-perhaps even letting in small
contractors who would not get a bite of the cherry?
Yes, I am keen to find ways in which small and medium-sized enterprises, as
well as a large consortium, can participate in BSF. We are already seeing that through the supply
chain and through the relationships with the larger consortiums. We are also seeing a number of middle-sized
builders and contractors leading the smaller schemes. There is quite a large range in the size of
projects in BSF, from £80 million up to £1.5 billion. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach
here. What we are trying to do is to
balance the access with value for money, and with delivery and improvement of
efficiency through time. The Department
for Children, Schools and Families has just concluded a consultation on the
second half of BSF-2007 to 2015-where we are looking at opportunities just like
the ones you mention, for other entrants to bid on more targeted, smaller-scale
Q47 Mr. Carswell: So, if a smaller business came to me
and said that they found that they had barriers to entry, I could bring them to
you and we could work out what those barriers to entry were and how to remove
You certainly could. As I said, a number
of smaller contractors are participating very effectively in BSF, with the
flexibility that they bring. There is a
need to balance value for money overall with flexibility and pace, which is
often what they bring.
Q48 Mr. Carswell: The second thing on which I would be
interested in your views-we looked at this earlier-is the idea of national
guidelines for the design of schools locally.
I am very conscious of that. This
is more to get your thoughts. In the
'60s and '70s everyone thought tower blocks were a good thing, and then-someone
talked about leaky roofs earlier-flat roofs were everything. Today, although I will probably be hung,
drawn and quartered for saying it, the fad of the moment is carbon neutrality-we
may or may not be talking about that in 20 years' time. Now there is this great trend to make schools
into some sort of community centre-that may or may not work. Even though people talk about flexibility and
you can change the size and shape of the classroom, the fact is that there are
certain preconceptions about what a school is going to be and what it is going
to do. Is there not a certain danger in
having national guidelines? Would there
not be a smarter way of doing this, which would be somehow to allow different
localities to do their own thing, giving them the freedom to develop?
I think that the issue from my perspective is to try and get the balance right
between having some national standards, which build on experience across the
country, and giving local flexibility to make choices that are available to the
very different settings in which these schools are located. Some local authorities have a local vision
that sets their BSF school in the context of a much wider economic regeneration
strategy, for example. Some others want
to see schools as more stand-alone elements of the community spread across a
large county, for example. Both of those
are fine, as far as BSF is concerned.
What is not fine is if we were to try and create a situation where there
was overcrowding or inadequate facilities against some measures where we are
clear that we want to stimulate learning, which is why every BSF school is an
extended school. That is not a
one-size-fits-all measure. It allows
that extension to fit with the locally owned strategy-as it does in Essex, for
example-and to fit more broadly with the local delivery of the gathering of
services. Those might be social care
services or wider education services as the children's plan envisages; but there
is a great deal to be learned in a world that needs to be increasingly
So we are trying to create places that
are effective in today's technology and that have the flexibility to adapt
through time. We want to check that
progress with the users as well as the parents, teachers and communities in
which these schools sit. I am very keen that we do not have a one-size-fits-all
approach and that we learn lessons for where they are working-because there are
some similarities across communities and there are experiments going on in what
is the best way to deliver some aspects of learning in a modern environment.
Q49 Mr. Carswell: One final question. Would you allow a school that says it is not
going to have any access to any community activity, is going to go to the other
extreme, is not going to worry too much about this carbon neutral stuff and is
going to maybe emulate what the Victorians did?
Would you allow that? That would
It would be flexible, wouldn't it? No;
on sustainability we would not, because there are some national
guidelines. To pick up on some points
that were made before I sat down here, BSF was not high on the sustainability
agenda when it began. The Government
clarified the position in relation to sustainability last year through the
introduction of a 60% reduction in carbon footprint for new BSF schools. We are on a trajectory via a taskforce that I
know you have heard about this afternoon to get to carbon neutral schools by
So there are some national standards
that local schools need to take into account, but the dimensions of the
extended school is very much a discussion that we have with each local
authority-and, indeed, each school-to try to set a balance and pattern of service
into what is a much larger and more complex service environment locally.
Mr. Slaughter: Are we going on to educational
Chairman: You can go on
with anything you like.
Q50 Mr. Slaughter: What has begun to interest me about
the programme, which I suppose naively I originally thought was simply a
modernisation and capital programme-there is nothing wrong with that at all-is
how it can be used to change the whole educational approach of a local
education authority. But that can be
quite a political process. I am going to
give you a parochial example, but it may have a wider significance; however,
before I come on to it, are you aware of that?
If there is a political agenda coming to you from local authorities in
the way that they wish to spend these very considerable sums of money, are you
alive to that and are you responding in a political way, or are you simply
ticking a lot of boxes to see whether the money is being spent in a proper way?
I am certainly not responding in a political way. I am responding to the different perspectives
and priorities that local areas have-and they are different, across the
country. There are some givens about the
national programme. It is about raising
standards comprehensively, and agreeing locally through a strategy for change
process-which is the shorthand we have for capturing the local education
strategy and the estate strategy in a form that does drive up standards and is
in the interests of every young person within a local authority area.
You are right; that sounds deceptively
simple. There are issues about
boundaries and the migration of pupils; about diversity and choice; and about
the extent to which some local authorities want to gather wider services on and
around school sites. That differs, but
what we are trying to have-and that I believe we are developing-is an
intelligent dialogue about the aspirations of the Government, which I am there
to represent, and the aspirations of the local authority and the leader and
chief executive of the council, with whom we deal, as well as the director of
children's services. That is why, for
each BSF school, as we begin them, I visit the authority and speak to the
leadership-political and official-and we reach an agreement, which is quite a
formal agreement, about the process that will be gone through in order to
deliver the educational changes locally. I hope that that answers your
Q51 Mr. Slaughter: Well, it allows me to introduce my
example, which is one of my local authorities, Hammersmith and Fulham. Briefly, there are four principles that I see
in the BSF programme, which they are just putting forward to Partnerships for
Schools as we speak, almost. One is the
downgrading of community schools and the original proposal to amalgamate three
community schools in a 16-form entry, which sounded quite bizarre. The second
is to expand faith schools, even though they are over-represented already in
the local school economy. The third is a
massive expansion in sixth forms, but with no resources going to the one
successful sixth-form college in the area, and a lot of the money therefore
going to the building of those sixth forms-up to seven new or expanded sixth
forms-within a small local authority area over a five-year period. Finally, there is the use of the money to
dispose of assets to the independent sector in order to set up independent
None of those principles accords with
what I would necessarily want to see as a use for Government money. I thought it was for improving school
standards overall, but particularly for community schools with a high
percentage of free-school-meals pupils that, although they were improving
greatly, were not doing so well. Taking
that as a hypothetical example, how would you respond?
It sounds very hypothetical. I cannot
comment on the absolute detail of that scheme, although I would be happy to
talk to you separately about it. I just
look at some of the items that you have raised.
We are not at all interested in the
downgrading of community schools. We are
interested in trying to ensure good access and good choice for every young
person across the local authority area.
We recently had the remit meeting, so we have commenced a process for
the strategy for change that allows for further development. We have not agreed every item in it as
yet. There was an eight-week process at
the beginning and a 20-week process for the second part of the strategy for
change. That will allow us to reach an
agreement-or, indeed, a disagreement: if there is disagreement, the project
will not proceed-about fair access and good opportunities for all young
As for the hypothetical expansion of
faith schools, we looked in quite a lot of detail at the pupil place numbers
and the expected pupil places for each local authority area. That is a science, but it is also an art,
particularly in London
and especially in places like Hammersmith and Fulham, which have a large
percentage of resident pupils who are educated outside the borough. We are trying to look at it in the broader
sub-regional context in order to reach conclusions. If there is good evidence that we need more
places in faith schools, we are capable of agreement on that, although I do not
know in this specific case.
On the expansion of sixth forms, we
will be looking at the track record and delivery of existing institutions as
well as any plans for new sixth-form places.
The disposal of assets is generally a matter for the local authority,
although there is a relationship between the disposal of school assets and the
contribution that local authorities need to make towards the programme more
generally in their areas.
All those points are ones that I would
expect to agree with any hypothetical Hammersmith and Fulham over this period
of the strategy for change process.
Those are the principles that we will look at, and we have started a
process that will debate them and bring them to a conclusion before the project
proceeds in earnest.
Q52 Mr. Slaughter: To conclude, even though you would
obviously not be looking at this from a political point of view, let alone a
party political point of view, if issues raised in that way appeared to you not
to be achieving the objectives of the programme, would you at least question
Yes. If they were not achieving the
objectives of the programme, we would not allow them to proceed. It is normally the case that in the
pre-engagement and early engagement phases we are sufficiently clear about the
parameters that we are dealing with, and if not, we tend not to start the
process. I am hopeful that we will reach
a positive conclusion in Hammersmith and Fulham, but I do not have available
this afternoon the detailed points that you make.
Mr. Slaughter: I would be happy to supply them.
Q53 Chairman: Keeping on that
point, if we interviewed the Learning and Skills Council and other players,
such as the Association of Colleges and so on, about the transition of two
years, and the dramatically changed shape of the LSC, they would say that
because of you lot in Building Schools for the Future, and because of the
academies programme-because of the world that they live in, in terms of
planning their future-you are encouraging local authorities to plan for the
future across the piece, to have a vision, yet at the same time they,
especially the further education sector, will say, "How can we plan
How can the local authority plan
anything, with trust schools and academies both having the potential for sixth
forms, with Building Schools for the Future allowing sixth forms in their new
build? It is a crazy kind of
environment. Who is doing the planning? How can order be brought to that chaos?
I think there is order. I think that
order is coming. Through the strategy for change process we are trying to take
into account 14 to 19 provision, locate the education strategy within the
broader community strategy that the local authority holds for the whole area,
and for that to cover 0 to 19 and beyond.
We are working work with the Learning and Skills Council in London,
looking specifically at the joins between vocational opportunities, academic
sixth-form opportunities and the rest of the secondary school agenda, in order
to overcome that kind of issue and to ensure that things are connected.
A single document should set out
clearly what a local authority wants to achieve in a broader context in its
community strategy. Within the strategy
for change it says, "Here are the places that we need for this local authority,
here is the mix between vocational and academic opportunities and here are the
specific linkages." Each school has a
strategy for change, as well as the local authority. We increasingly want to share vocational and
academic resources between institutions in the locality, through clusters,
federations or simply through the operation of expertise in adjacent
areas. That is happening more and more,
and it is a key principle of BSF to look after everybody's needs for an
authority, not just for our own purposes, but for good planning generally to
cover diversity and choice issues, efficiency and value for money.
Q54 Chairman: So how do you
look down and look up? You are mainly at
secondary level. Do you look down to the
primary level and say, "What is the quality of new build going on outside the
BSF programme?" What about the
environmental standards that Graham mentioned just now? Do you look up to the FE sector? When we did the last inquiry on BSF we were
told that 50% of that estate had been rebuilt, often not to the high standards
that BSF hopes to achieve, and certainly not in terms of environmental
standards and carbon footprint. Is your
good practice spilling over, down or up?
It is starting to. I do not claim that
we have this solved-we do not. We have
an agreement to look at the whole picture in terms of pupil numbers. Increasing numbers of local authorities use
their local education partnership as a means to procure and deliver primary
schools through the primary programme.
We are making the connection at the strategy for change level with
further education and on to higher education.
We are responsible for the delivery of
BSF We do not run the primary
programme. We are increasingly looking
for ways to join that process up and we work actively with the Department for
Children, Schools and Families to find better ways of doing so.
This year we will see clearer linkages
emerging and I hope that we will be able to deliver linkages beyond the strategy level with FE provision. We must allow the circulation of pupils
between FE and sixth-form provision, which we already see in several strategy
for change proposals. Blackpool
is an example that springs to mind where we consciously have a programme that
does exactly that. It allows the
movement of pupils between an FE college and the seven secondary schools within
Q55 Chairman: Tim, you have
been chief executive of a big local authority.
We have taken evidence from local authorities and visited them. Taking on a big BSF strategy is demanding on
resources, time and staffing. At the
same time, the Government are throwing open the careers service and the funding
of further education, and piling on the number of things that local authorities
can deliver. Do they have the capacity
to do that?
When I was a local authority chief executive I was keen to have as much
devolved to me as possible. In the
report, I notice that you talk about the need to get that balance right. That needs to be judged carefully in terms of
capacity and capability. In relation to
BSF and the academies programme, there is a wider variation in capability and
capacity in local authorities, which is why we try to tune our relationship
accordingly. Some need more help and
challenge than others, and some have a more comprehensive picture of where they
want to go and how they will resource it than others. I am keen for authorities to have a programme
for BSF that delivers effectively and is located within a broader
strategy. I do not make an assessment of
the Government's devolution of other schemes to them.
Q56 Annette Brooke: If we could look at some of the
issues that came up in the previous session-you probably heard the
answers. There was a question about
whether there was enough post-evaluation, and you covered that in your
introduction for obvious reasons. Could
you tell us a little more about the post- evaluation that is taking place? Is it looking at all those issues of
involving stakeholders, or indeed at energy measurement? In other words, is it going beyond value for
money for the taxpayer? I feel there are a lot of dimensions that should be
You are exactly right. There are a lot
of dimensions. There is a sort of
technical process. When people use the
term post-occupancy evaluation, sometimes that is restricted to a very
technical evaluation by technical assessors of the physical characteristics of
the building. I am talking in a much
broader sense. I am very keen that we
use objective research information to plot our progress and to challenge us to
develop further, as well as being clear about the ingredients that we can
spread as best practice across the country.
So we look at stakeholder
research. For example, Ipsos MORI has
carried out quite a widespread exercise for us this year, which we published on
our website, that talks about stakeholder involvement; that was an issue that
your report raised last year. It
measures the extent of satisfaction and participation by parents, teachers and
young people in the process. I will not
go through all the details for you, but there has been a very significant shift
over the last 18 months in the attitudes and perceptions of involvement among
stakeholders, and the recognition that the programme needs to be seen as a
whole programme-ICT, building and education transformation, all together.
For example, 65% of stakeholders say
that the amount of contact that they have with Partnerships for Schools is
about right, 85% of stakeholders say that ICT is an integral part of the
programme, and local authorities have a very high level indeed of favourable
involvement at the preparation stage for BSF.
So we have been checking across the stakeholder community.
We have also been talking to students
and head teachers. The National
Foundation for Educational Research report on Bristol Brunel Academy, which I
mentioned earlier, gave some very specific details, for example about reductions
in bullying, feelings of safety when at school and desire to stay on
I would just like to give you one or
two statistics from that report. The
figure for those who feel safe at school at Bristol Brunel
Academy most or all of
the time increased from 57% to 87 % this year.
Those who felt proud of their school increased from 43% to 77%. Those who said they enjoyed going to school
increased from 50% to 61%. Those who
perceived that vandalism was at least a bit of a problem decreased from 84% to
33%. Those who perceived that bullying
was a problem decreased from 39% to 16%.
Those who expect to stay on into the sixth form or to go on to the local
further education college increased from 64% to 77%.
We feel that those kinds of figures
are significant measures of good progress at that particular school, which is
why I am keen to chart it in other areas, as well as the academic and the sustainability points that
you started with.
Q57 Annette Brooke: My question in the previous session was
really whether Government were giving sufficient leadership. On the face of it, it sounded as if the
Government were following; in other words, at individual authority level, there
was the bolt-on of environmental sustainability on the transformation, which is
a mix of local authority and central Government. Apart from the money, however, what are you
really adding to the outcomes?
There is quite a bit from us. If I just
start from the beginning, when people are starting to plan their strategy for
change process and starting to define the educational improvement strategy for
that area, we spend quite a lot of time introducing resources that are not
always available within a local authority, particularly in pupil place planning
for example. It is very important for us
that we have a view across an authority's area of how many pupils you will have
for the next generation, in order to ensure that you have a good investment
that is not too many or indeed too few places.
So there is quite a lot of input in
developing the education strategy. There
is quite a lot of input in the early stage about the facilities available
through ICT across the curriculum. As part of our single gateway, which was
another of your recommendations that the Government have picked up, we manage
the contracts with 4ps for pre-engagement work for capacity building and
project management skills in authorities, with the Commission for Architecture
and the Built Environment in order to challenge and support good design as the
process proceeds, and with the National College for School Leadership, which is
there to ensure that head teachers and their leadership teams understand what
it means to lead a project through BSF.
So there is quite a bit at the early stage.
When it comes to going out to the
market and engaging with the private sector, holding bidder days and starting
to develop the strategy to run through what is a complex EU procurement
process, we have expert project directors who are allocated to each local authority
to help both to guide and to challenge that process within the local authority
to the point of financial close. When
the arrangement is concluded, we have, through our sister organisation,
Building Schools for the Future investments, a place on the board of the
operational local educational partnerships to ensure that progress is
sufficient against the timetables that we have set.
There is a significant capacity
constraint within local authorities in the project management area and in the
negotiation and skills area. We are
seeing quite a lot of movement between local authorities, so we are engaged on
our own account and with 4ps in developing training and wider access to those
skills so that there is sufficient out there to help to manage BSF projects. We try to target and to provide our services
proportionately to the need of the local authority. We do not want to overdo it. Equally, we want to make sure that there is
good progress in timing and quality for these projects.
Q58 Annette Brooke: It all sounds quite mechanical, and I
cannot see where the innovative ideas have a chance to pop through the
system. How is innovation being
We want to encourage innovation, and one way that we are finding helpful is
through the engagement of young people.
We use the Sorrell Foundation, through its joined-up design programme,
to hold workshops, seminars and programmes that help to stimulate new ideas
direct from pupils about what is important for the design of new schools. We encourage each local authority to
participate in that process. We are also
encouraging the design community to innovate in the way in which it produces
proposals for design, and for the bidding consortium to do so as it approaches
a local authority to enter into the procurement process.
I would not describe that as a
mechanical process, but it is a complex process. At its core, local authorities must choose a
partner who will be able to respond to their aspirations locally, to deliver
something that is flexible enough to respond in different local settings even
within a single local authority area, to have a good relationship with the
schools and communities in which they are located, and to deliver something
that is effective and provides value for money on the ground.
Chairman: We are running
out of time. Paul wants to go back to
something that we missed out, but need for the record. We can then get Graham to wind up.
Q59 Paul Holmes: What are the lessons-this is partly
connected with what you have just been talking about-from the one-school
A number. We feel that it is most
effective to make investments in schools in the context of the strategy we
talked about before-overall, a strategy for change. You can go in and look at a school that has a
particular need and sort it out in the individual school. Unless that sits in a broader strategy, the
investment, if replicated too widely, would not provide the optimum solution. One-school pathfinders have allowed areas
throughout the country, where there are high-need local situations, to produce
new facilities quickly. It is better to
do so in a broader way that fits with the overall strategy. That is my conclusion.
We also need to make sure that the
same rigour on design, sustainability and value for money applies to every
investment across BSF. Some of the early
one-school pathfinders did not score as highly as the schemes that are coming
Holmes: I was going to ask about that. Some of the early stories were horror stories
about individual schools being taken to the cleaners by the PFI contractor, who
might say, "Well, if you want these extra school activities in the evenings and
at weekends, you will have to pay extra for them, and we will charge you for
car parking and so on." That goes
against the whole point of improving and extending school facilities. Are you saying that we have learned the
lessons from that by doing whole-authority negotiations?
Yes. That is important. There are two or three points to make on
that. First, it was not just a function
of one-school pathfinders. It was an
issue historically with single-school PFI, which caused a range of problems on
flexibility and value for money.
However, there are some good examples of single-school PFIs which do not
have those problems, so it is not just an issue in kind. The Jo Richardson community school in Barking
and Dagenham is a good example of a flexible arrangement with a PFI
provider. The maintenance and facilities
management arrangements are managed by the school to a very high degree of
value for money and flexibility through the introduction of vocational space,
new special needs provision and so on. It can be done, but it is much more
difficult on a single-school basis. That is why looking at the rest of the
estate is so important.
What is unique about the local
education partnership approach-I speak as someone who, in my previous life, was
quite critical of the problems of PFI in its early years-is that it is in the
business interest of the consortium to both be flexible and deliver value for
money. Otherwise, they lose the exclusivity for the period, which is given by
the local authority and could be for 10 years. The value for money has to increase
year on year on a like-for-like basis, or the exclusivity is lost. That is the
first time that I have seen PFI working in the explicit interests of the public
sector as well as the private sector, and needing to demonstrate that
Each one of our first several schools
coming through the second and third wave of procurement in BSF is hitting its
value for money improvements. We monitor that on an individual school basis as
well as in phases and waves in BSF. Were those improvements not to be
delivered, we would go to an alternative source to provide the schools in a
local authority area.
Q61 Mr. Stuart: Tim, do you
have a bonus structure for yourself, personally?
Partnerships for Schools has one for me, yes.
Q62 Mr. Stuart: What factors
determine whether you receive your bonus?
The bonus is determined by a committee of PFS, and it is against our business
plan targets, which are to do with the number of projects delivered through
local authorities, the number of academies, the quality of them, the
educational outcomes of young people, sustainability-there is no shortage of
measures, I can tell you, in relation to the performance of PFS. They are
published in our business plan each year. We are measured against quite a large
number of performance indicators-about 60.
Q63 Mr. Stuart: So your
personal annual bonus depends on 60 performance measures, does it?
Yes, it does. It reflects the overall performance of BSF as a whole, and the
people who work within BSF are measured according to the areas for which they
Q64 Mr. Stuart: So in that
context, what role does sustainability and the carbon footprint play? If it
turns out that these schools are not delivering, will that stop you getting
your bonus or not?
I suspect that that would be a question of degree. There is an issue across
each of the measures against which we are managed, and which we publish on our
website. There is quite a large range of targets, and their proportionality is
also set out in the business plan, which is publicly available: 60% is to do
with delivery, 20% is to do with operating efficiencies and people-related
aspects, and the remainder is to do with-
Q65 Mr. Stuart: It sounds incredibly
complex, compared with profit or numbers.
It is complex, yes. As an ex-local authority chief executive, I can say that
there are significantly fewer targets than I used to have to deal with as a
local authority chief executive.
Q66 Mr. Stuart: What hard
data can you provide us with to monitor the sustainability not only of the
schools that have been built to date but those that will be built, on the
On the environmental point, we monitor each school, and that information is
publicly available. There are targets for the progressive improvement in
sustainability, as I mentioned earlier, and we will be monitoring in each
school, through its post-occupancy evaluation, how it has progressed against
Q67 Mr. Stuart: Do you have
collective numbers-a nice easy set that we can look at?
I do not have a nice easy one for you this afternoon, but as I said, we will do
our first post-occupancy evaluation this autumn at Bristol Brunel, where we
will be examining the results on the ground against the targets that were
originally set. The Government's position has clarified through time, and for
each new school we are looking at a reduction in the carbon footprint of 60%,
and we are measuring that for schools from a particular point in time. I wish
that it were more simple for you, and indeed for me, but it is not. When we get
to 2016, we are targeting a zero-carbon position for new-build schools. For
refurbished schools, of course, different issues need to be managed, because we
are managing a different thing.
Q68 Mr. Stuart: But most of
the BSF schools will at least be heavily under way by that point, 2016. Is zero
carbon by 2016 a bit of a pointless promise?
No, I do not think that it is pointless. All of government is committed to
2018, and BSF has been targeted to do that two years earlier. We need to work
out practical and sensible ways to get to that target. In some cases, the technology is not
available to us now without paying a significant premium. I am aware of a couple of schools in this
country that have delivered a carbon-neutral result. We are looking at the most effective way of
doing that, in urban and rural settings.
It will take some time for the taskforce to finalise its recommendations
in relation to that. In the meantime, we
are stretching ourselves to do the best that we can with the resources
available to us.
Q69 Mr. Stuart: One of the
things we would like to understand is this.
Sustainability comes off the tongue very easily. It is easy to incorporate it, and then you
get to the hard measures a few years down the line and you find there has been
no real change. Can you give us any
picture of the BSF schools built to date?
Have they reduced carbon by 60%, or was it too late for those?
It is too late for those. Those that are
coming through now will be delivering 60%.
Q70 Mr. Stuart: As of when?
The announcement was last year, so schools that will be up in about 15 to 18
months from now will be delivering that total.
We are measuring those to date. I
have mentioned it a couple of times, but I shall mention again Bristol Brunel
academy. Where we start to get real
traction on sustainability is where we integrate environmental sustainability
into the curriculum. We have energy
meters on the walls. We have young
people policing the turning off of lights and the use of ICT. That creates an upward force, in addition to
having a set of targets.
To correct a point that you heard
earlier, it is in the business interest of the consortium to demonstrate high
sustainability and low energy use, because at the bid stage, it is measured on
the extent to which that is achieved. A
bid with high energy costs will be less successful than one with low energy
Q71 Mr. Stuart: There is no
problem with the bidding. At the bidding
stage, you get a beautiful school that is very environmental friendly. But as it gets squeezed to the end and there
are cost pressures, suddenly that high-performance, low-energy pump with a bit
of capital cost is squeezed out. All the
other things like that are squeezed out throughout the project.
That is not our experience, although I am familiar with the kind of example you
Q72 Mr. Stuart: So can you
assure us that, for instance, high- performance A-grade pumps only will be
installed in BSF-
No, I cannot do that, and the reason is that the decision that is taken at
school and local authority level needs to fit within a framework that is about
improving sustainability and gives the choice about the means of getting there
to that local authority and school. I
can certainly say that if that solution did not pass the sustainability hurdle
of 60% carbon reduction, that would be a significant problem and it would not
Q73 Mr. Stuart: But at the
bid stage, of course, you have a theoretical school. We have all sorts of Government targets. I think that the offices of the Department
for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have seen a 32% increase in energy use
since 1999, which is at complete variance with its policies. The policies are fantastic, but the reality
does not match. We are worried that the
schools will not match.
I can understand that. I can give you
one illustration that may help this afternoon.
We are seeing the consortiums taking these kinds of things seriously. One of the advantages of an integrated
approach between construction and ICT is that we are seeing more money
coming-in at least one case I can think of, from a construction consortium-to
invest in low-energy ICT precisely because that reduces the energy bill for the
school and therefore reduces the unitary charge. The local authority will benefit from
that. It also ensures that there is a
more contained energy problem, as it were, for the facilities management
provider. We are trying to create an
environment in which the objectives of the provider are aligned with those of
the user and the Government. That was
quite an interesting example. The
consortium did not have to do that. It
invested in the ICT to keep the overall footprint down.
Q74 Mr. Stuart: Okay. The fear has to be that the bid fits with the
60% reduction but the actual school does not.
What happens in that case?
In the case of PFI, you are setting the price at the point of concluding the
transaction. That means the risk
transfer-that is why PFI is working for us in the area of new build-to the
private sector is affected at that point.
Let us say that facilities management is not included and energy
provision is not included within that package.
Even in design and build solutions, more and more that risk transfer is
happening, but where it is not and the risk remains in the public sector, that
creates the potential for the circumstances you have described. We are trying to design that out by creating
a risk transfer to the private sector so that the bid sets the pattern for
Q75 Mr. Stuart: Okay. You are trying to design that out. Can you just explain to us precisely how it
would work? I am trying to work out and
understand, in respect of the contractor-as Warren Buffett would say, it is all
about incentives-exactly how it would work at that point. Can you explain that to us?
If you are going for a price for the provision of a range of services to a
batch of schools and you are setting that price against all the variables that
are set and you deliver that through a risk transfer to the private sector,
that is the point at which you have set your course. It is then in the interests of the private
sector to get the cheapest possible solutions.
As a former board member of Constructing Excellence, I believe that this
view is shared-quite rightly-and that more people want to see whole-life
costing introduced and that they do not simply want to get the purchase
price right, never mind the maintenance.
People are looking at it as a package.
In the case of PFI, that is contained in the overall transaction and,
for design and build, more and more local authorities are creating a fund
locally to enable them to maintain the facilities through the life of the
project. We have to keep an eye on that,
because unless it is nailed down at the transaction level, it is a risk that
needs to be managed.
Q76 Mr. Stuart: What
guarantee do we have on that front? Do
we have your personal guarantee that, from now on, this will be built in and
there is no way that we will have-
No, I cannot say "No way". I can give
you examples where authorities can choose a "no way" risk-transfer solution,
and I can tell you that we will be managing and measuring these issues in
relation to each school.
Q77 Paul Holmes: May I ask the same question that I put
to the two witnesses from Barnsley? When we were first looking at this matter in
respect of the first report, schools we visited and evidence we got said that
sustainability was squeezed out on ground of cost. The Barnsley
people said that that is not happening there, because they are putting
extra money in over and above what the Government provide. How do you square that with your confidence
that sustainability is going to be there?
I live in three worlds, as I alluded to earlier on. First, there are the early schemes-Barnsley
is an example of quite an early scheme in BSF, where sustainability was not
figuring as highly as it does now and the authority in Barnsley
has invested more fully in some areas than other authorities early on. Secondly, there are those that we have
already made changes to following on from wave 4-those authorities that have
come in since November 2006-where, increasingly, sustainability has been quite
specifically targeted in relation to the degree of carbon reduction that needs
to be achieved for schools. That started
with the announcement by Alan Johnson in spring 2007 about 60% reduction. Thirdly, we have the progress to get to the
There have been several moves: those
in the past, where some authorities have invested more and when, frankly,
sustainability was not as high up the Government's agenda as it is now; those
who are coming through the system now; and those who will be getting us up to
Q78 Paul Holmes: So are the extra costs of achieving
sustainability up front being met by taking something else out? Did you make £130 million extra available?
There is additional funding being made available now-
Q79 Paul Holmes: But spread across all schools. That was not enough to make the difference.
It is being made available for all new-build schools that hit the 60% target,
and there is a calculation that generates extra money for all schools going
through the system now that achieve that.
The Barnsley scheme, I believe I am
right in saying, was before that. I
expect there to be further developments later for schemes taking us to 2016.
Q80 Mr. Chaytor: I want to ask about travel and
transport, because it seems that, at exactly the moment when the price of oil
and the impact of climate change targets is encouraging people to travel less,
national education policy is assuming that young people, particularly between
the ages of 14 and 19, will travel more.
How is school transport and the impact of the 14-to-19 curriculum being
built into the schemes that are coming forward so far? What guidelines, if any, are you issuing
about how schools should account for the carbon effect of increasing travel?
In-curriculum transport is not a new issue to BSF. It was a huge issue for us in Norfolk, when I was chief executive there, where moving
between a secondary school in Swaffham and the further education college in King's Lynn was a regular feature of life for pupils. It is highly differentiated according to the
locality that you are putting it in. The
sustainability figures that I have given you are to do with the building itself
and its operation. Local authorities
have separate travel-to-learn plans, which take into account the sustainability
cost of travel. They need to be balanced
between opportunity and the sharing of curricular activities-vocational and
academic-between institutions in localities, and the need to keep costs to a
minimum. That balancing issue is
something that local authorities manage.
It is not something that we impose from BSF. We ask them to take it into account. It is a balance, and it is a challenging
balance for any local authority.
Q81 Mr. Chaytor: Local authorities also have their own
emission reductions target in their performance management frameworks. Will the carbon content of school travel have
to be included in the local authority's performance indicators or will it be
counted against the schools' carbon reduction calculations?
That is a technical question. I do not
know the answer. I am a bit out of date
as a local authority chief executive. I
believe that it will come at authority level and may also be measured at the
school level. It certainly is not
something that we take into account through our formal reporting at BSF.
Q82 Chairman: If you have
departmental expertise, will you write a note to us on it?
Indeed. Yes, we will.
Q83 Chairman: We have come to
the end of the sitting. You live in
three worlds. Does that world include
speaking regularly to the schools commissioner?
It does indeed. Yes, I speak to him
Q84 Chairman: What do you
We talk about the need to balance choice and how to set that in the context of
an improvement strategy for each institution in a local authority area. We meet regularly to discuss those
issues. As each authority comes into
BSF, we have a discussion at wave level to look at the plans of each authority
to make sure that we have a pattern that meets the objectives of the schools
commissioner and of the other aspects of the DCSF before commissioning the
project at the remit meeting, which I chair on behalf of the Government in each
local authority area. Those are the
things that we discuss. The discussions
centre on being sure that the improvement strategy for each school is
convincing, and that a range of choice is available for young people within the
local authority area.
Q85 Chairman: You talk
regularly to Sir Bruce Liddington.
Everyone knows that there is a discussion about two particular local
authorities in London
that are next door to each other.
Everyone says that one is making a brilliant job of BSF, and that the
other is making a real mess of it. How
did the one authority that everyone says is making a mess get through all the
hoops and get the money? What is going
I am racking my brains about which authority you mean.
Chairman: The authorities
and Lewisham. I shall not tell you which
one is good and which one is bad. I
shall leave that to your imagination.
Different progress is made in those two boroughs. That is true.
Their involvement with BSF considerably predates the existence of the
schools commissioner, and they have adopted quite different procurement
routes. I have been dealing in detail
with both authorities over the past few months.
A range of issues-not to do with the schools commissioner-has impacted
on their progress. As it happens, both
of them are starting to make good progress, but one, in particular, has had a
slow start and is taking a long time.
Q86 Chairman: The word coming
back-probably about the one with the slow start, I am not sure-was that it
could not be bothered with the environmental stuff and sustainability affecting
I am not seeing that. I am certainly
seeing the settling of some substantial environmental factors affecting the
progress of one particular school in one of those authorities. That is not because the authority is not
taking the matter seriously, but because there is a need to balance the
environmental regulation questions-as there is in other places. You mentioned flooding earlier.
Q87 Chairman: Tim, I am happy
with that. How often do you talk to the
building research centre?
I do not talk to it frequently. Our
design team is in pretty constant contact with all people engaged in
Q88 Chairman: The BRC is
doing really good stuff, but on sustainable buildings-those that contain energy
and use less of it. I know that such
matters are not linked directly to the DCSF, but surely you should be talking
to people who do the innovation.
I personally do not talk to them regularly.
Q89 Chairman: Does anyone do
so from your team?
I shall confirm that. I am sure that we
do on the issue of developing sustainability.
I do not claim that I have a direct dealing myself.
Q90 Chairman: But you mention
innovation quite a lot.
Q91 Chairman: As it is
innovation, it might be worth sending some of your people down there.
We will do so.
Q92 Chairman: I do not know
if Graham was talking about the high-quality pumps because he has a
constituency interest. I hope that he
was, because it just shows that he is doing his job superbly well. Heat
Exchangers, a company in my constituency, is working on such an innovation.
Tim, this has been a valuable
session. As long as you are in the job,
we will call you back regularly. A lot
of taxpayers' money is involved. Do you
still think that it is worth using all that money to refurbish buildings? Should we not stop the programme and spend more
money on good science and maths teachers?
Do we have the priority wrong?
We should be doing both. I see an
enormous improvement in the behaviour, attitude and engagement of students with
whom we are working throughout the country.
I certainly think that it is important to achieve a right balance
between new facilities, ICT, teaching and the engagement of parents to make
sure that the whole package delivers the outcomes that we are seeking. While I am pleased that we have been asked to
act as a single gateway into BSF-as you recommended in your report last year-it
also gives us an opportunity to influence each of those areas as well as making
sure the element that is the core of our business is delivered effectively.
Q93 Chairman: I think that
you left the community out of that.
The community is an important ingredient.
Chairman: Thank you.