Ooo," says the builder, sucking his teeth. "You've had a right cowboy in here." That is roughly the verdict of a government-appointed architecture body, Cabe, on half of the newly built schools it surveyed. Who else would construct a secondary without sound insulation or classroom ventilation, with corridors too narrow for two-way traffic and with no natural light?
Much of the answer lies in the private finance initiative. At worst, PFI has created shotgun marriages of heads whose previous experience of building design might be a new kitchen, with commercially motivated developers who know little about schools.
Cabe wants the Government to lead in good school design, updating specifications and refusing permission for inadequate plans. Education is going to be very different this century: we must get the foundations right.