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RIBA 'unsurprised' at low quality of BSF design

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The RIBA has said that it 'came as no surprise' that CABE has concluded that the majority of secondary schools being built under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme are ‘mediocre’ in design.

In the report into the £35 billion programme, CABE found that 'an estimated eight out of 10 designs' for BSF secondary schools were ‘not yet good enough’ and that less than a fifth were considered to be ‘good’ or 'excellent'.

Now the RIBA has added its weight to the growing furore surrounding the programme claiming that it has 'always been concerned' that BSF excludes 'the smaller or newer design-orientated practices' and discourages 'many talented designers who can find greater scope for their ideas in the private developer sector'.

The institution added that it believed the programme was a 'narrow approach to procurement' in which design was left out of the bidding process.

It also called on the government to let it road test the RIBA's alternative 'Smart PFI' model, which it claimed would 'would ensure design intelligence is deployed right from the start of any BSF programme'.

To date 13 new and refurbished schools have opened under the programme, and 22 are to follow in September. By 2011, it is hoped that 200 schools will be opening each year.

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