Stick to your guns when it's time to rebuild

4th March 2011 at 00:00

Gerald Haigh's article on The TES's coverage of school buildings over the years was fascinating ("Constructive criticism", TES Magazine, 18 February).

I was a local education authority officer working with schools on the building programmes of the 1980s and '90s. I am sorry to see the prospects for this exciting work at a low ebb following education secretary Michael Gove's crass decision to scrap Building Schools for the Future (BSF), but I am delighted for the thousands of children who will benefit from the former government's investment in the programme.

Many bureaucratic and political features of BSF were just wrong, but as opinion continues to turn against Gove, others will start to open new routes to the regeneration of school buildings. Their impact on teaching and learning, which your editor fails to appreciate, is crucial. Ask teachers who work in decrepit buildings and ask the children and students in a new school where a good job has been made of the project.

Please let me describe "a good job" for those schools that will get the chance to be part of a building programme. Make sure you can afford to pay, fix a budget and a timetable, and stick to them. Most importantly, involve all the users in drawing up the design brief. The best I ever saw was prepared by parents, teachers, children and governors over two terms in a village primary school. There wasn't an accountant, lawyer or consultant in sight!

Let the solution be the one you believe is best for the teachers and learners. Politely decline the "must do" advice from anybody who will simply walk away afterwards.

Stuart Parry, Nottinghamshire.

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