In the week that Tony Blair's legacy is being discussed, who can forget his mantra 'education, education, education'? It has certainly translated into 'schools, schools, schools, ' with a mindblowing volume of work under way or planned.
Quantity, however, does not always mean quality, an issue Ty Goddard raises on pages 46-48.
Building Schools for the Future (BSF) has been criticised on a number of grounds, but Goddard, director of the British Council for School Environments, claims the biggest shortcoming is the lack of time for involvement from stakeholders - the people who actually teach and study in the schools. He warns that without an improved process cynicism will set in 'with profound consequences not only for those thinking about bidding, but also for how teachers, pupils and communities will embrace their new surroundings.' He also spells out the ways in which poor school environments can effect students' learning.
Kent County Council is tackling poor levels of educational achievement by using Gensler to oversee the rethinking of all its secondary schools under the BSF programme (see page 14).
Appointed as client design advisor for more than 140 schools, the practice will set standards to allow new ways of learning. Despite its mindnumbing use of phrases like '21st-century learning scenarios' and 'a holistic view of learning, ' it is tackling a proper architectural problem - creating new types of spaces that allow behaviour to change.
One must not slip into the seductive belief that good architecture can solve all ills. And there is something disturbingly corporate about the images; but these are not finished designs. If one architect were to be churning out all these schools, that would be depressing. Instead it is effectively setting a brief to which others can respond. If the right architects are chosen for the execution, this could be very good news indeed.