The concrete schools that tell pupils to piss off

27th February 2009 at 00:00

A leading British architect claimed this week that schools up and down the country built in the 1950s and 1960s tell their pupils to "piss off".

Sunand Prasad, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, was speaking at the launch of the Great Schools Inquiry, which is the centrepiece of a campaign set up by a not-for-profit schools lobby group, the British Council for School Environments.

Mr Prasad said that the massive Pounds 55 billion Building Schools for the Future programme was a once-in-a-generation opportunity. He warned those involved that they must not repeat the mistakes made after the Second World War.

"When we look back in 10 or 15 years' time, we can't look back in disappointment after this huge spend on schools has taken place," he said. "The schools we are building now should be living instruments, living tools that are truly transformational. The schools built in the 1950s and 1960s did not welcome you, but told you to piss off."

The Great Schools Inquiry is being chaired by the former education secretary and Labour peer Baroness Estelle Morris, and is supported by Barry Sheerman, chairman of the Children, Schools and Families select committee.

The initiative is expected to take evidence from many interested parties, including teachers and pupils.

The aim of the inquiry is to gauge the impact of new school buildings on academic attainment, to assess the effect of school environments on children's health and wellbeing, as well as "isolating what makes great teaching and learning".

Ian Fordham, deputy chief executive of the council, said: "The Building Schools for the Future programme is a welcome investment in the space that children and young people have to learn in.

"But we need to find out more about what works and what doesn't to ensure teaching, learning and community needs are at the heart of what is being built."

Baroness Morris, the inquiry chair, said: "The lack of investment in school buildings by the previous government has meant that we have lost an awful lot of expertise. Hopefully, this inquiry will uncover some of those skills and provide excellent learning environments for pupils now and in the future."

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