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Interserve joins standardised school market

Interserve has become the latest construction firm to launch a standardised school model in response to the James Review.

The support services and construction firm said its PodSolve model will save 25 per cent of the cost of school design, build and maintenance. Interserve’s first project is for Leeds East Academy, originally estimated to cost £19 million, but reduced to £13.65m under the pod method.

Laing O’Rourke, Willmott Dixon, BAM, Wates and Capita have all entered the standardised schools market after an independent review led by Sebastian James set out a system to slash the cost of schools building by 30 per cent and deliver fit-for-purpose buildings for every pupil.

Interserve chief executive Adrian Ringrose said:  “PodSolve is an example of an innovative and intelligent building solution which provides local authorities, schools and the government with a great school environment at a better price.”

Helen Lane, principal of Leeds East Academy, said: “The flexibility of the school will be hugely beneficial.”

Interserve has developed the product in partnership with Maber architects, Norwood and Arup. Using the pods - which are manufactured from a composite material within a rigid steel frame and include photovoltaic panels - the academy will be built in 60 weeks, compared to 80 weeks by traditional construction.

The government cancelled the £55 billion Building Schools for the Future programme and has launched a £2bn Priority School Building Programme to help redevelop the most run-down school buildings.

The application process for PSBP funding was closed on October 14 with procurement for the first batch expected in the second quarter of 2012.

Last week Peter Livesey, head of the Department for Education’s Central Capital Unit, told a conference that BsF had made the schools’ estate worse.

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