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New research: scrapping BSF affected pupils' grades

Sound Innovation At Blackburn BSF School
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Pupils’ grades have suffered at schools where funding for new facilities was pulled, it was claimed this week

An investigation of more than 700 schools which lost out after the Coalition government scrapped the Building Schools for the Future Programme (BSF) found that their academic performance dropped by 12.5 per cent.

According to Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS), which publishes the results of the study in a new book, the fall demonstrates the harm caused by the withdrawal of the school building scheme by education secretary Michael Gove in 2010.

It said: ‘For all the political bluster of a new government, when promises are broken by politicians there are very real repercussions.

‘Any short-term gains in popularity or the budget are undermined by the long-term detrimental effect on the education of society.’

Commenting on the findings, Josh McCosh, partner at Van Heyningen and Haward Architects, said: ‘Ultimately the quality of teachers is the most important factor but rubbish facilities can make discipline worse and you can’t recruit better staff. I would hazard a guess that after the withdrawal of BSF funding, some of the better staff might have left the affected schools.’

Attainment graph

Attainment graph

However, the FCBS research also showed that after an initial jump, attainment at schools which did build new facilities under BSF fell back sharply by the fourth year after opening.

The book said: “This may be a consequence of the increased focus on the school or that part of the local authority administration of BSF included improving the school.’

The idea of imagining future change seems to be more powerful than the actual building itself

Steven Pidwill, director at Shepheard Epstein Hunter, said: ‘It’s interesting that attainment appears to drop off after a couple of years whether a building is provided or not. The idea of building and imagining future change seems to be more powerful than the actual building itself.’

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘It is shocking that in one of the richest countries in the world, schools still struggle with buildings that are not fit for purpose.

‘Our children deserve to be taught in surroundings that are conducive to learning and give students a sense of pride in their school.’

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios Learning From Schools is published by Artifice

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