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Architects welcome Gove's departure


Architects have applauded Michael Gove’s removal from the post of education secretary in David Cameron’s ministerial reshuffle

During his four-year tenure at the helm of the Department for Education, Gove proved unpopular with the profession, after he blamed them for wasting taxpayers’ money on the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme and subsequently scrapping it.

Gove, who has become the Conservative’s chief whip in the Commons is replaced by Nicky Morgan. Her husband is architect Jonathan Morgan - a consultant at Archial Architects.

Simon Foxell of schools specialist Architects Practice said Gove had ‘merrily abused architects for his own political ends’ during his tenure as education secretary, and said he hoped Morgan would take the provision of good schools with decent space standards ‘more seriously’.

‘It’s difficult to point to a serious bit of school architecture that has come out under his reign,’ he said.

‘The kind of buildings that have been procured by his department will end up being not fit for purpose far earlier than the medium term.’

Foxell added that the industry had lost ‘huge amounts of experts in design and building’ because of the way BSF was cancelled.

Robin Nicholson of Cullinan Studio, who was a member of the previous government’s Zero Carbon Task Force for schools, said Gove’s departure was ‘great news’.

‘I feel quite angry about him,’ he said. [Gove] thinks schools are only for learning, but schools are the heart of the community and much more. The department will take a while to recover.’

RIBA head of external affairs Anna Scott-Marshall said Gove’s legacy would be ‘crumbling schools operating well beyond their life cycle’ because of  ‘years of underinvestment’.

‘Coupled with a hiatus in school building programmes, and the cost-cutting of the Priority Schools Building Programme with new schools that are simply too cheap, we are blighted with schools - new and old - that are failing those trying to learn and teach in them,’ she said.

This week’s reshuffle also saw planning minister Nick Boles moved from the Department for Communities and Local Government to a new ministerial role spanning the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education.


Tony Langan, director and education sector head at AHR
‘Gove’s departure leads to the big question on the influence of design in education.  

‘We hope to see a sustained investment and delivery of high quality education buildings which is very important to the achievement of the government’s goal of raising educational standards. With that in mind, we look forward to seeing what Nicky Morgan has in store for the department.’



Readers' comments (5)

  • There'a good Scottish term - 'A wee nyaff', but in fact Gove did have a reforming zeal which - if applied intelligently - could do an awful lot of good in a variety of directions, not just in education..

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  • I hope that the RIBA will encourage Nicky Morgan in her new role to take a fresh look as soon as possible - to make her mark before the election.
    The unfortunate school buildings legacy of her predecessor requires a sharp turn around. It would be sad if this new minister were to be given no time to achieve more than window dressing and electioneering.

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  • Just as good schools are much more than about the quality of academic development and attainment so is the school fabric more than just about quality buildings and space standards. We are all affected in some measure by the quality of our environment - let us hope that any future commitment to schools also recognises the value and sense of true well-being that can be fostered through the sensitive and thoughtful design of school grounds, more particularly as schools are at 'the heart of the community'.

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  • how come the best schools were established in the 14th to 16thCenturies and have mostly managed quite well with buildings from the 19th ?

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  • how come the best schools were established in the 14th to 16th Centuries and have mostly managed quite well with buildings from the 19th ?

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