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Reed hails Gove meeting as 'productive'

RIBA president Ruth Reed says the institute is to work with the government on how to obtain ‘best value from school design’ following her meeting with ‘value-driven’ education secretary Michael Gove

Reed, who met Gove and architecture minister John Penrose with RIBA chief executive Harry Rich on Monday, claims an agreement was thrashed out that will see the Institute collaborate with the Department of Education and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on ‘identifying the constraints to achieving well-designed schools’ and on the future delivery programme.

Speaking to the AJ, Reed said: ‘The meeting was cordial. We had to be robust about what he had said about architects and the harm he had done to the profession.

‘But this meeting has opened a door to the Department of Education, so there is a happy ending. Gove made it clear to us that he was trying to express how hugely wasteful the BSF programme had been and when he used the term architect, perhaps it was shorthand for all the consultants involved.

Gove is value-driven and if you talk to him about delivering the best value he is happy to have a conversation

‘Gove is very value-driven and if you talk to him about delivering the best value he is happy to have a conversation. He acknowldeged that the James Review was an overly simplistic view of the complex schools estate. He was also keen to talk about the durability of well-designed schools in the long term.

‘We have agreed to assist in identifying the constraints to achieving well designed schools including those in procurement and planning. ‘

She added: ‘[Yet] there remains an obvious conflict between the govenrment’s drive for standardiation of schools and localism. The government needs to reach an understanding across departments and that is something John Penrose [who brokered the meeting] is trying to do. More power to his elbow.

Penrose added: ‘Good design and great architecture will play a big part in the country’s recovery, both as a crucial element in the development control system but also as a way of promoting innovation and creativity.  They can also represent clear value-for-money – successful and sustainable buildings will pass the test of time and do so because high quality architecture was built in from the beginning.’

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