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School 'sheds' out as CABE seeks better class from PFI

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School design the Private Finance Initiative way has often led to little more than agricultural sheds, says a leading architect on the eve of two major guidance papers. CABE commissioner Richard Feilden told a conference run this week by his commission and the Department for Education and Skills there were good schools coming out of PFI but 'mediocrity is closer to the norm'. He said:

'There are also some poor ones and some little better than agricultural sheds with windows. It is astonishing they were given planning permission.'

He told the conference that CABE would publish a 'simple guide' in a few weeks. It would have 10 key 'targets to help launch a PFI project on the right track'. Points included clear organisation, and robust and non-institutional materials.

He said a 15-strong CABE 'enabling panel' was looking to help councils get more out of PFI.

Baroness Ashton, the DfES ministerial design champion, announced a mandatory standard PFI contract, launched before Christmas, to help fillet bureaucracy. 'We have dramatically increased funding, ' she said at Greenwich Millennium School, designed by Edward Cullinan Architects.

CABE deputy chairman Paul Finch said six of the seven buildings on the Stirling Prize shortlist were funded by the public sector, but there were no schools: 'I hope in future there will almost automatically be one or two - not as a right but because of their quality.'

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