Founded on Local Vision: Reforming Building Schools for the Future

January 19, 2009   By nlgn

Founded on Local Vision: Reforming Building Schools for the FutureLocal areas should be allowed greater discretion in the way they design and build new schools, according to a new report by NLGN. The paper argues for central bodies to loosen their hold on the reins of the Government’s £45 billion Building Schools for the Future programme so that schools, parents, pupils and elected representatives can shape the future of their communities and education.

The report argues that the next generation of schools have the potential to impact positively on a whole range of local challenges, from personalised learning, to the local economy, up-skilling the population, integrating health and other services.

However, the central nature of the programme and its procurement procedures means that opportunities to harness these local benefits are not always realised, the report argues. Concerns centre on the prioritisation of resources, delays in the programme and the design of the new schools. There is considerable scope to devolve decision-making to local people and elected representatives so that wider strategic goals can be met. While recent reforms to the procurement procedures are welcomed, the thinktank suggests that more reforms are necessary.

The report argues:

  • for wider community goals to play a more central role in the programme, by tying in projects with wider Sustainable Community Strategies, Local Area Agreements and, where relevant, Multi Area Agreements;
  • recommends a more pivotal role for Local Strategic Partnerships in the process and putting Leaders of Council at the head of delivery bodies;
  • suggests new freedoms to allow local authorities to design and pilot their own procurement procedures and to make better use of the potential of sub-regional partnerships through Multi Area Agreements.
  • asks that central prescription of design processes to be minimal so that local innovation and variation can thrive.

Author of Founded on Local Vision and Senior Researcher at NLGN, Nigel Keohane said:

‘Currently the mechanisms for delivering the BSF policy hamper the local vision and strategic integration that are necessary to make these new buildings transform their environments and their pupils. Government should look to remove central prescription so that local input is allowed to come to the fore.

‘This new generation of schools can have a positive impact not only on the learning environment, but also on a local community’s skills profile, regeneration projects, leisure and civic life, even on health issues and congestion. But, these are very complex interrelated policy areas and this thinking can only occur by joining-up strategy at the local level.’

January 19, 2009
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