Teachers have designs on new buildings

26th September 2008 at 01:00

Teachers are becoming increasingly involved in the design of school buildings, with fewer than one in 10 feeling their views are ignored, according to a report to be released later this year.

The figure is a significant improvement on last year, when 20 per cent of teachers said they were dissatisfied with their level of input into the Building Schools for the Future programme.

The findings will be published by consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers in the second instalment of a four-year study into the pound;45 billion programme, which aims to rebuild or refurbish every secondary in England by 2020.

Ministers have encouraged architects to involve teachers and pupils in the design process, but this has proved difficult to implement in the early years of the programme.

The British Council for School Environments and the Teacher Support Network have criticised the lack of teacher involvement and called for rules to guarantee a minimum level of participation.

Ty Goddard, the council's director, said teachers' and pupils' views needed to be heard to help deliver high-quality buildings.

"If we want to transform education, the involvement of teachers and learners in the design and build process is the right place to start," he told a fringe meeting at the Labour party conference. "We need minimum standards on the consultation of teachers and pupils."

Mr Goddard said the procurement process for new schools needed to change to make teaching and learning more central.

Patrick Nash, chief executive of the Teacher Support Network, said: "Teachers must be given the time and advice needed to pass on their expertise."

Michael Chapman, head of High Storrs School in Sheffield, which has been remodelled under the programme, told the meeting that the scheme was the biggest challenge he had faced in his career.

He said schools should bring in specialist project managers, rather than delegating responsibility to members of staff.

Jim Knight, the schools minister, said last week that design panels run by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, which vet the quality of school designs, would be given new powers to veto plans that were not up to scratch. He also said the panels would have to include a teacher.

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