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Scape calls for ‘national strategy’ to build 400 schools

Scape has called on the government to prepare a “national strategy” to deliver the equivalent of 414 new secondary schools in the next three years.

According to government forecasts, 435,000 more secondary school places will be needed by 2020/21.

Scape’s new report, The Secondary School Places Challenge, says providing these places equates to building 414 new schools across the country.

That breaks down into 381 schools in England, 15 in Scotland, nine in Wales and nine in Northern Ireland, though the report clarifies that these numbers do not take account of new schools that may open by September 2020.

Scape chief executive Mark Robinson said action must be taken and new techniques used to meet rising demand.

He said: “Such is the scale of the projected increase in secondary school pupils that the government should now seek to develop a national school-building strategy that brings together the Department for Education, local and regional government, and industry.

“We must ensure there is a joined-up approach that embraces modern methods of construction such as modular and offsite techniques, which can deliver schools quickly and cost-effectively.”

Responding to the report, a Department for Education spokesperson said the government would continue to invest in school places.

“We have committed £5.8bn to create new school places from 2015-2020, and have already created 735,000 places since 2010,” they said. 

Along with the national strategy and modular building, Scape also suggested schools be built higher on small sites, that more extensions be constructed on to existing schools, and that schools make greater use of local facilities such as leisure centres.

Andrew Alsbury, education director for Willmott Dixon, which has delivered schools under Scape frameworks, echoed the call for a new approach to school building.

“New ways to meet this need and more innovative thinking like this is the way forward, including better use of modular methods and adoption of higher-density design to make best use of smaller sites,” he said.

Wates managing director for government affairs Stephen Beechey said that, as well as increasing capacity, school building needed to be more sustainable.

He said: “There are just under 25,000 schools in the country; each school has an average lifespan of 60 years. Alarmingly, this translates to up to 400 schools a year becoming unusable.

“I’d like to encourage colleagues across the industry to ensure new schools are fully sustainable – in addition to incorporating modern technology to build them faster and address the school places crisis.”

In London, which is forecast to need the equivalent of 73 new schools over the next three years, Scape suggested section 106 agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy could be used to fund new buildings.

But RICS head of UK external affairs Geoff White said using S106s in this way could create difficult trade-offs.

”As S106 agreements are also used to fund affordable housing, local authorities need to be aware that there will be a trade-off and S106 monies spent on a school cannot be used to fund affordable housing and so a careful balance must be maintained,” he said.

In November more than 30 contractors were awarded places on an £8bn government framework covering the construction of new schools in England.

Readers' comments (1)

  • This IS working in Ireland.

    Building schools employs people NOW at construction stage. Employs staff as Teachers and Support staff for the life time of the school.

    Building Schools and Teaching the population generates an educated, motivated, enabled future work force who then contribute to productivity.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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