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BSF: minimum design standard launched

A minimum standard for use in the design of Building Schools for the Future buildings was launched yesterday.

The Minimum Design Standard for BSF - jointly developed by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, delivery body Partnerships for Schools and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment - means only designs meeting its criteria will proceed through procurement.

Proposed designs for BSF sample schools will continue to be assessed by CABE’s schools design panel, and only designs graded by the panel as ‘very good’ or ‘pass’ will be able to proceed into construction. Those graded ‘unsatisfactory’ or ‘poor’ at their final review will be stopped.

Schools minister Jim Knight said the Minimum Design Standard was a clear signal that objective review of sample designs was critical to improve the quality of schools.

He said: “BSF is an unprecedented programme to sweep away the legacy of long-term underinvestment, replace school buildings coming to the end of their shelf-life with high class facilities, and transform secondary school standards.

“There had been no national school building programme for decades before BSF – but we learned fast from the early phases that involving experts like CABE early and intensively made sure local authorities got the support they needed in getting designs right.

“The minimum Design Standard takes this further and is absolutely fundamental to BSF’s long-term success.”

The Teacher Support Network welcomed the Minimum Design Standard as it ensures teachers will have a say on new school buildings by sitting on the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment’s (CABE’s) design panel.

Teacher Support Network chief executive Julian Stanley said: “This is an important step in the right direction in ensuring that the crucial input of teachers can help the BSF programme to be a real success.

“Our joint report with the British Council of School Environments found last year that there were significant barriers that prevented teachers from fully engaging in the BSF procurement process. Given the chance, teachers can ensure that new buildings facilitate both high standards of teaching and learning, as well as helping improve the wellbeing of staff and pupils.

“We now hope that further support is given to enable teachers to be actively involved in the creation of their schools at a local level.”