Memorandum submitted by the Department
for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF)
Since the Select Committee published its report
last August, Building Schools for the Future (BSF) has moved on
quite considerably; both in terms of progress on delivery, and
also in the evolution of the processes supporting that delivery.
Good progress is also being made in taking forward the development
of the primary capital programme.
Thirteen BSF schools have now opened their gates
to students, teachers and the local communities that they serve.
This number will more than double in September, and we anticipate
that by the end of the financial year, around 50 schools will
have opened. That trend continues to increase until 2011 when
we expect that around 200 new schools will open every year.
Overall, around 1,000 schools are now engaged
in BSF, the Academies programme and One School Pathfinders. Seventy-two
local authorities are fully in BSF. Eighteen of these authorities
have selected their private sector partners (covering 20 deals)
and have signed deals worth around £2.5 billion of capital
investment that will help transform education in their local areas.
Taking into account future investment in subsequent phases of
BSF in these cases, this figure increases to over £3.5 billion.
A range of support and guidance packages has
been developed to help local authorities and their stakeholders
prepare to hit the ground running as soon as they join BSF. Partnerships
for Schools (PfS) with their partners 4ps and the National College
for School Leadership (NCSL) are now helping ensure that local
authorities have done the necessary preparations before entering
the programme, including sufficient work on the initial visioning.
As well as increasing the certainty that BSF will produce genuinely
transformational learning environments, the new approach has resulted
in reduction of up to six months in the pre-procurement timetable
The procurement phase of BSF has been reviewed
and, when implemented this autumn, the new process will deliver
a reduction of up to two months in the timetable for delivery.
The reforms to the procurement phase are also expected to reduce
bidding costs by up to 30%equivalent to around £250
million savings across the programme. More detail on this is provided
We are pleased to inform the Committee that
the responsibility for managing the contracts with 4ps, NCSL and
CABE (the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment)
which help support the delivery of BSF has now transferred from
the DCSF to PfS, positioning PfS as the single gateway delivery
agent for the programme. We are currently looking at ways in which
these arrangements can be streamlined further, and be more explicit
about the contribution from each partner. PfS' role has also broadened
out, working with local authorities prior to their joining the
programme and then throughout the process and into the operational
As the Select Committee acknowledged in its
report, BSF is designed to be so much more than a "bricks
and mortar" initiative. It is not about simply replacing
old schools with new versions. It is about creating flexible schools
that inspire and engage young people, their parents, community
and teachers. The input of young people and their teachers is
Early engagement and consultation with the whole
school community is an important part of the development phase
of a BSF project. When a local authority joins BSF, it must produce
a "Strategy for Change" which demonstrates how the secondary
school estate can support the educational aspirations for the
area. The authority also needs to demonstrate that in preparing
the strategy, it has carried out proper consultation with its
stakeholders and the resulting strategy has been accepted and
is supported by all these groups.
As part of the local authority's work to produce
its Strategy for Change, each school will also be required to
start developing its own School Strategy for Change, showing how
it will support the delivery of the objectives in light of its
own needs and circumstances. The local authority must provide
the appropriate support for schools to do this. Further support
is available from NCSL and from the workshops on offer for students
through the Sorrell Foundation. However, we recognise that more
work needs to be done to explore how schools can ensure students
and parents are involved in the planning process. PfS is currently
producing guidance material on preparations for BSF, which will
include pupil engagement and local consultation.
Together with the readiness to deliver assessment
and the Memorandum of Understanding (which all local authorities
now sign with PfS, clarifying respective roles and responsibilities),
the Strategy for Change has resulted in a robust platform for
local authorities to begin their BSF projects, providing greater
certainty that the investment will help deliver educational transformation
and a reduction in the BSF timescale.
In the autumn of 2007, PfS commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers
(PwC) to carry out a review of the procurement phase of BSF to
explore whether there are ways to make this even more efficient,
with a particular focus on three aspects: the role of design,
ICT integration and Local Education Partnerships.
The resulting recommendations have recently
been approved by the Department and are likely to result in significantly
reduced costs for bidders and a reduction in the timetable for
delivery by up to two months.
Key changes include:
a reduction in the overall procurement
timedown to 75 weeks from the current 82-week model;
more comprehensive pre-qualification
of bidding consortia;
two lead bidders selected earlier
in the process, after 29 weeks rather than 44 weeks;
time and cost savings in the design
process, with sample schemes only required for two projects, and
a re-focusing of time for detailed development and completion
of design work; and
more focus on effective partnering
issues throughout the procurement process.
The new process will be implemented for authorities
in Wave 5 and beyond this autumn, and will maintain and improve
competition across the programme. It will also increase the certainty
that individual projects will help deliver educational transformation.
A key responsibility for PfS is to identify
and then share good practice between authorities and to highlight
any pitfalls to avoid. This is being done in a number of ways:
Review points at key milestones for
every BSF projectcarried out by the PfS Project Director
and shared at both a regional and national level with other Project
Facilitating a range of workshops,
conferences and seminars for local authorities and their stakeholders
in the early engagement phase.
National Learning Networka
network of local government BSF lead contacts that enables the
exchange of information between local authorities, the private
sector and PfS.
Chief Executives Advisory Groupset
up to exchange views at the most senior level between local authorities
Encouraging private sector bodies,
such as the PPP Forum and the Major Contractors Group to engage
with the bidding community as a group.
ReviewsPfS have already carried
out a review of the procurement phase of BSF and are about to
embark upon a similar review of the effectiveness of Local Education
Partnerships in operation.
PfS Websiterecently re-launched
with dedicated "lessons learned" pages; a multi-media
compendium of information about BSF; individual pages for every
local authority in the country, charting their progress; and user-focused
content for teachers, students, local authorities and the private
PfS quarterly publication, Insiteproviding
the latest news and updates.
Stakeholder Satisfaction Surveycarried
out by Ipsos MORIidentifying areas of focus for PfS.
Establishing links with Teachers
TV and Sec Ed to target the teaching profession directly.
Department commissioned PwC to carry out a three year evaluation
of the impact of BSF on pupil achievement, including early lessons
that can be applied to later projects.
4ps and CABE also provide advice and support
to local authorities in order to support BSF delivery. They have
an important part to play in disseminating lessons learned from
early phases of the programme.
4ps provide advice and support for authorities
to help them review and develop their procurement expertise and
knowledge and prepare members and school leaders. They have an
important function in ensuring that some of the lessons learned
during the early waves of BSF are effectively communicated, such
as: the need to commit to and adequately resource programmes;
develop robust governance structures; and gain corporate understanding
of the private finance aspect of the programme, including the
preferred BSF procurement model (the LEP).
They deliver these messages through their Expert
Client Programme that includes:
training and briefings for authority
staff and school leaders;
membership of local boards; and
facilitation of Gateway reviews and
4ps are in contact with BSF authorities early
in the pre-procurement process and are able to report regularly
and feedback on emerging issues likely to influence the BSF programme
and the Department's Capital policy. They also provide an early
indication of challenges in BSF local programmes in the pre procurement
In terms of supporting local authorities in
becoming "good clients", CABE "Enablers" (architects
with good track records) have been commissioned to provide up
to 20 days advice on school design issues. CABE also holds one-day
design workshops with each short-listed bidder during the design
development stage, and forms a Schools Design Assessment Panel
to look at bidders' proposals for sample schemes.
The Department and PfS have worked with leading
architects and suppliers to develop a suite of guidance publications
on standard specifications, layouts and dimensions. The aim is
to help disseminate best practice and avoid reinventing the wheel
every time a school is designed, so that consistently high quality
environments can be delivered, offering best whole life value
for moneybut without compromising design flair.
Standardised approaches will support the move
towards more off-site construction, which should drive improvements
in health and safety, reduce waste, and deliver quicker and more
sustainable solutions. To help encourage take up, the guidance
will become the standard in the BSF programme documentation and
we will expect it to be adopted in the majority of situations
where it is reasonable and appropriate to do so. Whilst we would
expect projects to comply with the standards, other solutionspossibly
based on new products or technologies, or reflecting local factorsmay
equally comply with the specifications and could be used. We do
not want to stifle innovation by being too prescriptive.
Though principally aimed at secondary school
building projects delivered through the BSF Programme, the specifications
and solutions may also apply to other educational buildings.
PFI AND CAPITAL
The Select Committee raised concerns about the
risks associated with PFI as a funding method. In BSF, PFI is
generally used for building new schools or schools requiring over
70% refurbishment, where it has been proven that it offers value
for money. Far more projects are built on time and cost than with
traditional procurementsresearch suggests that 88% of PFI
projects are finished on time and on budget compared to 30% of
local authority run projects.
It is important to note the robust pupil place
planning that local authorities now have to undertake under BSF.
Authorities must take account of how many pupils they will have
for a 10-year period to ensure that they are rebuilding schools
that reflect demographic data and trends. This will help minimise
any risk that BSF schools that are being rebuilt are less than
The Department is also making good progress
in taking forward the development of the primary capital programme.
The 23 pathfinder authorities remain on track to deliver their
exemplar projects by September 2009. We are also working with
pathfinders to develop case studies and good practice on approaches
to delivering sustainable 21st century primary schools.
Following a successful trial with pathfinders
last summer the Department issued comprehensive guidance on arrangements
for the national roll out in 2009-10. Among other things, the
guidance sets out the core information requirements, the arrangements
for monitoring progress and emphasises our expectation that local
authorities should adopt a suitably joined up approach to planning,
procurement and funding.
To access the additional funding earmarked for
the national roll out all authorities will prepare and submit
to the Department a Primary Strategy for Change showing how capital
investment will be used to support the delivery of key national
policy priorities, as set out in the Children's Plan. This is
essentially a light touch version of the approach taken in relation
to BSF. The Department will assess each strategy against the core
requirements set out in the guidance and notify local authorities
of the outcome by the end of September.
The approaches towards sustainable development
adopted by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and the DCSF
within their respective capital programmes are now better aligned.
Versions of BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental
Assessment Method) have now been developed for further education
(BREEAM was adapted for schools in 2005), and both organisations
provide additional funding for sustainable development. At the
time of the Select Committee's report, the LSC allowed an additional
5% of building costs to be ring fenced and used for Sustainable
Development. DCSF is now making a similar level of additional
funding available to reduce carbon emissions from school buildings.
Additional funding of £50/m2 is being allocated to new schools
within BSF, Academies and One School Pathfinder programmes to
reduce carbon emissions by 60%, and we expect local authorities
to use their capital funding to meet this reduction in carbon
emissions for all other new school buildings (eg within the Primary
The Select Committee commented on the usefulness
of the LSC checklist and encouraged its wider use. The checklist
includes a number of technical considerations, all of which are
addressed within Departmental guidance (Building Bulletins, etc)
and many of which are considered and incentivised within BREEAM
assessments for schools.
Our previous response confirmed that the development
of a Strategy for Change in each local authority was designed
to capture both the educational vision and what this will mean
for the school estate. Schools are also required to develop their
own individual Strategies for Change. PfS has developed and issued
guidance which sets out those elements we expect to be addressed
to ensure that schools can transform teaching and learning and
achieve better educational standards. They are also supporting
and challenging local authorities in the development of their
Strategies for Change to ensure that improvement targets are included,
and that it is clear how the associated key performance indicators
(KPIs) will be measured.
At a national level the Children's Plan sets
out a vision for all services for children and young people, and
provides the context for the development of a vision of what a
21st century school should look like. Work is underway in the
Department to define that vision in more detail, and to look at
a wider range of performance indicators which might be used to
measure progress towards that vision. PfS is also working with
partner organisations in the education sector to reach a clearer
understanding of the contribution that BSF can make to a 21st
century education. By the end of 2008 national KPIs and targets
will be established to monitor the extent to which the strategic
delivery objective of educational transformation is being achieved
BSF is a national programme of investment that
will help improve the life chances of millions of young people.
For BSF to achieve its objective of educational transformation,
national policy must reflect local needs and aspirations (and
vice-versa). The Strategy for Change process is a mechanism
to do this. An early remit meeting with local authorities sets
out at the outset what is expected, for example, ensuring that
the choice and diversity mix is appropriate to the local circumstances.
Against this backdrop, innovation is encouraged and we are seeing
many local authorities being very creative with their proposals
for BSF, including using BSF as a centrepiece for wider regeneration
or social cohesion within a local area.
Both BSF and the Primary Capital Programme provide
local authorities and their partners with opportunities to bring
together additional sources of funding to develop facilities that
enable the co-location of other services on school sites.
As outlined in the Children's Plan, the Department
is committed to "... run our capital programmes in a simple,
coherent and consistent manner to help local agencies to further
increase co-location". We have established a project to investigate
how we can improve the management of all our capital programmes.
We will be developing ideas to further simplify our processes
and support to local areas to co-locate services, so we make the
most of available funding, local expertise and good practice.
To ensure that this work takes into account the views and needs
of local authorities and their partners, we have appointed 16
local authorities as "pilots".
There is no intention to create a "one
size fits all" ICT solution. The ICT specification and procurement
process in BSF is deliberately designed to ensure that the purchase
and provision of ICT resources and services is tailored to the
needs and specialisms of individual schools. A local authority
is not allowed to proceed to procurement unless its ICT Output
Specification contains specific School Enhancements for each school
and these are shown to be linked to the schools' aspirations as
set out in their Strategy for Change. Although we are taking a
more hands-off approach in relation to the Primary Capital Programme,
guidance on the requirement to prepare and secure DCSF approval
to a Primary Strategy for Change emphasises the need to ensure
ICT supports the overall aims for teaching and learning.
The BSF programme challenges schools and local
authorities to develop an aspirational Strategy for Change and
to show how the innovative use of ICT will support this. This
approach places transformation at the heart of the process, linking
in ICT in a way that no other national scheme has so far been
able to do. Additionally, the ICT suppliers have responded to
the challenges and opportunities presented by BSF by developing
and bringing to market a range of new products and services. For
example, there is substantial investment in the development of
"next generation" virtual learning environmentssoftware
systems designed to support teaching and learning in an educational
There is standardisation to the extent that
we want to ensure that every school can offer a high-level of
ICT to support teaching and learning through BSF fundingbut
that is certainly not saying that the solution is the same for
The Select Committee recommends that there should
be a Post Occupancy Review for every school within the BSF programme
to ensure that a proper assessment can be made of what has worked
well and what has caused difficulties. We can confirm that all
schools in BSF are required to complete a Post Occupancy Evaluation
as part of the Design Quality Indicator for Schools process. Post
Occupancy Evaluation typically takes place after the building
has been through a cycle of one summer and one winter and so we
expect the first evaluations to take place towards the end of
The Department has commissioned a research project
to gain a better understanding of how the design of schools can
support personalised learning. In order to gain a practical understanding
of this, several "live" building projects will be studied.
We will develop tools, processes and advice,
suitable for use by all schools. This will enable schools to look
at their own practices and to translate these into building needs
and solutions. A key aspect of this project is a communications
strategy that enables the sector to benefit from the on-going
research findings as they emerge.
The Children's Plan, published in December 2007,
reinforced our commitment to school buildings with high standards
of sustainability and energy efficiency. The Plan announced our
ambition for zero carbon new school buildings by 2016, and we
have now appointed a Task Force to advise on how this goal can
be met. The Task Force will develop a roadmap to zero carbon,
setting targets and milestones along the way. They will focus
on the technical, design and construction challenges of zero carbon
school buildings, as well as cost, benefits and affordability.
Whilst the initial focus will be on new school buildings, they
will also consider the potential for substantially reducing carbon
emissions in the even more challenging field of refurbishment
As the Select Committee is aware, we are taking
action now as we work towards the zero carbon goal by setting
an immediate requirement that new school buildings will achieve
a 60% carbon emissions reduction. About 235 schools in BSF, the
Academies programme and One School Pathfinders will benefit from
additional funding of around £113m for energy efficiency
and renewable energy measures to support the delivery of this
requirement. We expect local authorities to use their devolved
funding to meet the same standards in other school buildings,
for example those in the Primary Capital Programme. This
builds on our requirement that all major school projects are subject
to a BREEAM assessment and expected to achieve a minimum BREEAM
Schools rating of "very good".
In terms of measuring success in reducing carbon
emissions of school buildings, we have developed a simple piece
of softwarethe "carbon calculator". This allows
users to test combinations of technical solutions and provides
initial estimates of carbon savings and capital costs. The carbon
calculator requires minimal input to assess the likely carbon
reduction, thereby allowing a large number of design options to
be tested at an early stage in the project. Its outputs are based
on a number of default assumptions to help to make some early
fundamental design choices. Users can refine these assumptions
as the design progresses, and more detailed information becomes
The use of the carbon calculator will be monitored
during the design and procurement stages of BSF, and will be the
means for ensuring that new school buildings meet the requirement
to reduce carbon emissions by 60%.
In order to avoid unnecessary duplication, we
are exploring options to monitor the actual energy used by new
schools through the Department for Communities and Local Government's
requirements for energy performance certificates and display energy
In its report, the Select Committee asked for
a response on whether we consider that using 30% of recycled material
in construction would be cost neutral and, if so, whether we will
consider raising the level required. We have discussed this with
WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) who have advised that
setting a high target for recycled content may preclude some options
for sustainable design (eg it is easier to recycle concrete or
steel than wood, and a high target may exclude the option of timber
construction for schools, even though many aspects of timber construction
are environmentally sustainable).
WRAP are satisfied that a minimum requirement
of 10% is achievable for all construction methods. They recommend
that it is retained as a minimum requirement and that any additional
content will be achieved wherever viable. WRAP have drafted a
clause for inclusion in the BSF standard output specification,
together with a proposal that a requirement be introduced for
construction teams to use WRAP's waste toolkit for school projects.
In its public response to the Select Committee's
report the Department set out the division of responsibilities
on BSF: the Department has responsibility for the development
of policy, while PfS is responsible for the strategic management
and delivery of the programme, including day-to-day management
of individual projects. The Department has plans to further develop
PfS's management role and to streamline the delivery-side arrangements
The suite of BSF contracts with third-party
support bodies has now been transferred from the DCSF to PfS,
creating a single gateway for BSF. These contracts cover work
carried out by 4ps, CABE and the NCSL.
How will we know if BSF has been a success?
The overarching objective of BSF is to transform
education in every secondary school in England, and in so doing,
improve the life chances of young people. The Department has commissioned
a three-year longitudinal study to help assess the success of
BSF. Its first year report published at the end of 2007 highlighted
the extent to which headteachers already believe BSF will have
positive impacts on teaching, learning and community involvement:
only 20% of headteachers think that
current school buildings raise pupils' aspirations;
87% of headteachers said BSF will
promote/accommodate a wide range of learning styles;
84% of headteachers said BSF will
improve the quality of teaching and learning in the school;
56% of headteachers think their current
building doesn't create a sense of ownership by community; and
44% of headteachers think parents
are not proud of the current school.
PfS commissioned the National Foundation for
Educational Research to carry out research on the impact of a
new environment on students and teachers at one of the first BSF
schools. Amongst the most significant findings, the proportions
who said they felt safe at school
most or all of the time increased from 57% to 87%;
who said they felt proud of their
school increased from 43% to 77%;
who said they enjoyed going to school
increased from 50% to 61%;
who perceived that vandalism was
at least "a bit of a problem" in their school decreased
from 84% of respondents to 33%;
who perceived that bullying was a
big problem decreased from 39% to 16%; and
who expected to stay on in the sixth
form or go to college increased from 64% to 77%.
14-19 DIPLOMAS AND
The Committee has asked for comments on the
need to cater for the 14-19 Diplomas and the joint working that
will involve, and for the proposal to raise the participation
age for education and training to 18.
Every local authority BSF Strategy for Change
plan needs to make specific reference to how it is helping to
deliver 14-19 reforms. This includes the delivery of Diplomas
and the raising of the participation age. There will, of course,
be different approaches and different levels of need across the
country, dependent upon the quality and range of existing facilities,
the current levels of participation and of NEETs (Not currently
engaged in Employment, Education or Training), and the projected
growth or decline in population levels. As well as the scrutiny
provided by PfS, the local Learning and Skills Council looks at
every BSF proposal so that building plans across the area can
We are currently in the process of producing
design guidance for local areas, showing a range of facilities
that demonstrate good practice in terms of Diploma delivery. This
guidance will further help local areas to decide what they need
to build in order to achieve our aim of "world-class"
facilities for every learner.
Raising the participation age will mean that
the proportion of young people participating in education will
increase. However, because of a projected decline in the population
of students of sixth form age, there will not be a large rise
in the actual number of learners. The Department is in the process
of refining its modelling so that we have a firmer picture of
where the smaller amount of extra learners will bein terms
of where in the country, on what qualifications, and in what type
of institutionso that those areas can respond as necessary.
The Committee has also asked for comments on
the public consultation on the management of BSF waves 7 to 15
that we launched on 9 May.
At the outset of BSF, the two key criteria determining
the order in which local authorities joined the programme were
academic attainment and social deprivation. The first six waves
have included those areas with high educational and social need.
Now that around half of local authorities are engaged in BSF,
it is timely to reflect on the lessons learned from the early
Proposals in the consultation include using
additional criteria to prioritise projects, and starting all authorities
off with at least one priority project as soon as is practicable.
It also explores barriers to cross-border working and delivering
co-locational services in BSF projects. It also seeks views on
allowing local authorities to join BSF when they can demonstrate
they are ready to do so, rather than in "waves" made
up of a number of authorities at a time. This would mean more
local authorities benefiting from the programme earlier than was
previously possible, as well as supporting market capacity as
projects would come to the market on a rolling basis rather than
in large groups.
Following the consultation, we will invite authorities
to revise their expressions of interest for inclusion in the programme.
Guidance on this will be informed by the consultation. We will
announce the revised national programme early in 2009, and announce
the next authorities to start in the programme shortly thereafter.
In addition to the consultation, it has been
our intention for some time to fast track a select number of projects
within local authorities that can demonstrate they are ready to
join BSF ahead of the original timetable for delivery. Authorities
in Waves 7 to 9 were invited to consider whether they are in a
position to take advantage of the opportunity to enter BSF earlier
than currently scheduled. We recently announced that a further
eight local authorities have been invited to come forward and
The Department has also cooperated with the
National Audit Office in its evaluation of Building Schools for