Designs on a better school

There were two remarkable things about the school architecture and design conference, held in Edinburgh last week (page four). The first was that the issue is at long last getting the attention which is long overdue, largely on the back of the Scottish Executive's pound;2 billion school rebuilding programme. The second is the rare sight of multidisciplinary chatter from architects to teachers to community leaders to academics.

This was a rarified atmosphere indeed, given added impetus by the fledgling nature of the discussions. The present realities were all too starkly set out by Keir Bloomer, although whether schools will ever be able to compete with investment in hotel lobbies and office atriums is doubtful. Another very clear conclusion from the day was that there is huge scope for pupils to become centrally involved in the planning and designing of their surroundings.

Despite the strictures of the principal teacher of art and design on the lack of space for his subject in the curriculum, the comments by some of the pupils in the "designs for learning" programme showed they can become enthusiastically engaged.

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