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New schools must catch the eye

LONG-AWAITED guidance on school design was unveiled this week - with a warning to private bidders wanting a slice of the pound;1 billion school rebuilding programme that they must pay close attention.

The guidance was launched by Peter Peacock, Education Minister, on a visit to the newly opened secondary at Auchterarder, part of a pound;12 million community school complex which boasts innovative features - and is not, ironically, built under the public private partnership (PPP) programme. It is one of 28 schools from across Europe singled out by the Scottish Executive as an example of good design.

In a section on PPP, the guidance states: "When local authorities are committed to design, it should be clearly recognised by bidders that there are certain criteria, including quality of design, which if not met could result in elimination from the bidding process.

"Appraising design proposals is a complex task and the client team should include advisers with the appropriate skills."

Construction and design costs should form between 50-60 per cent of a PPP bid.

The guidance is part of a pro-cess, stimulated by PPP, which has led to the first national schools estate strategy for Scotland - seen as essential under the PPP programme to rebuild or renew another 300 schools by 2009.

The guidance describes well-designed schools as "civic buildings with public presence". They should be built using environmentally friendly materials, be fully accessible and naturally lit and ventilated. Community use should be factored in and there should be enough flexible space to cope with changes in pupil numbers.

Among the schools in Scotland praised are Bunessan primary on Mull, the New Cowgate under-fives nursery in Edinburgh and St Aloysius Junior School in Glasgow.

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