Schools building scheme has not improved results

22 Jan 09
The Building Schools for the Future programme has had little effect on educational attainment, a consultants’ report has found

23 January 2009

By Mark Smulian

The Building Schools for the Future programme has had little effect on educational attainment, a consultants' report has found.

In its second annual report on the programme for the Department for Children, Schools and Families, published on January 20, PricewaterhouseCoopers said teachers and pupils were generally happy with the new or refurbished schools provided.

But the report added there was 'a clear message that buildings alone would not raise attainment, unless accompanied by other changes to how the school operated'.

The report concluded: 'The results as a whole suggest a positive impact of capital on attainment, but the magnitude is likely to be very small.'

There was no evidence in schools completed under the programme that the design of new buildings had 'significantly contributed to changing pedagogy and practice', it said.

Although teachers viewed the BSF favourably, only 29% of heads believed the involvement of the private sector would result in cost efficiencies, and just 20% said that it would prove useful for IT provision and maintenance.

The Association of School and College Leaders' policy director, Malcolm Trobe, praised the aims of the BSF, but warned that rigid contracts had left some schools with more basic IT systems than they had previously had.

Some were under pressure to make unaffordable revenue contributions to cover gaps in BSF budgets, he added.

Schools minister Jim Knight said: 'BSF is building a new generation of secondary schools, with outstanding facilities. It's time the critics stopped living in the past and looked at what is happening on the ground.'

As part of the BSF, which was launched in 2005/06, England's 3,500 secondary schools will be rebuilt or refurbished in 15 waves of investment. The programme is due to be worth £8.2bn in 2010/11.


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