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BSF cuts: First reaction and analysis

Politicians, architects and industry experts respond to the cancellation of the BSF school-building programme

‘In the light of the public finances, it would have been irresponsible to carry on regardless with an inflexible, and needlessly complex programme.’
Michael Gove, Education Secretary

‘[The] end of the Building Schools for the Future programme is profoundly detrimental - not only to the construction industry that would be building the schools and the architectural profession… but also the thousands of pupils who have benefitted from an enriched learning experience.’
Ruth Reed, RIBA President

‘Today is a black day for our country’s schools. It’s a damning indictment of this new Tory-Liberal coalition’s priorities and it’s a shameful statement from this new secretary of state, who will go down in history as the man who snatched free school meals from half a million poorer pupils and now today has in one stroke axed hundreds of brand new schools from communities across the length and breadth of our country.’
Ed Balls, Shadow Education Secretary

‘I am delighted to be involved in this vital project and feel very passionately that we can build a schools infrastructure in Britain that is truly world class, while significantly reducing our spending.

In my view, success in this review means that we will have found a way to have great schools for our children against a more measured investment backdrop.’
Sebastian James, Group Operations Director of DSG International plc, and BSF Review Panel chair 

‘The consequences of cutting the school building programme are significant -  we know decent school environments have an impact on pupil attainment, behaviour and wellbeing as well as teacher recruitment and retention.

‘We hope the announced review will come up with significant and creative ideas to keep the renewal of our school buildings on track – whether through refurbishment, or refreshing current buildings, or re-using other buildings.

‘Waste and bureaucracy have been a real drag on the school building programme - we must find new ways of doing things that are smarter, and more efficient.  We welcome that emphasis from the Secretary of State.’
Ty Goddard, chief executive of the British council for School Environments

‘Good quality education does not necessarily need sparkling, architect-designed buildings… It is more important to invest in high quality teaching, and high- quality teachers, than it is to invest in architect-designed landmark buildings.’
Philip Hammond, Transport Secretary

‘The current BSF programme is very bureaucratic, slow and unwieldy and I would welcome a review.’
Sir Bruce Liddington, Director General of E-Act

‘This appears to be a radical but clumsy decision.  Of course this affects us as architects, but the real affects will be to our children’s education.  The cuts are a tragedy for pupils and a critical blow for the economy.

‘My own view is that the BSF programme has been pretty uncompetitive, inefficient and ultimately unrealistic, but it could have been overhauled to deliver significant savings while still ensuring school facilities matched the expectations of parents and children.

‘We have yet to calculate exactly how the cuts will affect us; total confusion reigns as a number of our projects are earmarked “for discussion”.’
Jonathan Herbert, MD of Bond Bryan

‘We welcome the review of the BSF programme as to learn lessons from past experience in order to find a better way of working for the future can only be a good thing.’
Aredi Pitsiaeli, Director of Business and Strategic Development, Oasis Community Learning

‘The coalition government’s announcement to scale back the BSF programme will devastate parents and schools and condemn thousands of children and young people to a future of Dickensian education.’
Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (Nasuwt)

Readers' comments (1)

  • Has Philip Hammond been reading Michael Gove's old briefing papers? More architect bashing from the ConDem government. . . What kind of buildings do teachers need? Ones not designed by archtiects maybe? That'd be cheaper (in the not as good quality sense of the word).

    I think everyone is agreed that the system was bureaucratic and could be made more efficient. Architects were merely operating within the system they were asked to, I'm sure many who designed base schemes questioned the cost effectiveness.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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