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RIBA President: schools process 'costly and wasteful'

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RIBA President Sunand Prasad has criticised the Government's Building Schools For Future's procurement methods

The institute also demanded more design competitions and stricter criteria for sustainable design, insisting the 2016 zero-carbon targets should remain but that both the Partnerships for Schools and the Department for Children, Schools and Families need to be less prescriptive about how to achieve those reductions.

The government has been told it needs to reform its ‘costly, inefficient and wasteful’ procurement of its £45 billion Building Schools for the Future by RIBA president Sunand Prasad.

Speaking at the Children, Schools and Families select committee this morning, Prasad said the current process – which can cost up to £5 million per bid – stopped young and innovative practices getting involved in school design.

‘We want to see a new Smart BSF introduced which builds on our previous SmartPFI proposals – or the trial of alternative procurement models,’ he said, ‘This could fund improvements in design quality.’

Meanwhile, Ian Fordham, deputy chief executive of the British Council for School Environments, called for more research into the existing BSF schools: ‘We must do much more to gather the evidence of what works and what doesn't. We need a rigorous programme of research and development, funded by government.'

Intriguingly Tim Byles, the chief executive for Partnership for Schools, said that the funding for BSF project ‘was not as much a problem as some people think.’ He maintained that institutions, such as Norwich Union, were still coming forward to finance scheme regarding the investment as ‘stable and secure’.

However he admitted such institutions were now only willing to cough up around £20-£30 million, rather than the full amount, meaning a consortia of banks would be needed for each project.

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