Press release

Innovative new school designs deliver efficiency for every pound spent

New baseline designs for new schools are published today, which will see them built more efficiently, sustainably and cheaply.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Every new primary and secondary school to be built more efficiently, sustainably and cheaply in line with new baseline designs announced today, delivering a 30% cost reduction and saving up to £6 million per school compared to Building Schools for the Future (BSF) schools.

The new designs will provide a light, bright and airy learning environment for students and teachers and were drawn up with the advice of environmental, architectural and teaching experts to address problems such as dark corridors, poor ventilation and inadequate classrooms and to make the very best use of space.

Compared to BSF these designs represent a reduction in wasted space - 15% for secondary and five per cent for primary schools - whilst maintaining the same size teaching space, classrooms, staff rooms, sport, and art and design facilities. These new schools will still be bigger than secondary schools built in 2004 and primaries built in 2006.

The BSF programme saw each school designed separately costing unnecessary millions in consultancy fees and often resulting in buildings which overheated and had high energy bills.

Mike Green, Director of Capital at the Education Funding Agency, said:

These designs will ensure that new schools can be built to effective designs and specifications, be simple to maintain and energy efficient. And they can be built far faster than many have previously and for far less money.

Ultimately they will enable as many schools as possible to receive investment from the funding available and deliver an excellent environment for the children and communities they serve.

Advisory groups for the teaching of science, art, design and technology, the performing arts, ICT and libraries advised the Education Funding Agency (EFA) on the design of classrooms and facilities that work best for schools.

Commenting on the new designs

Charles Johnston, Property Director at Sport England, said:

Our experts on facilities have been working closely with the Education Funding Agency on the development of these designs. Getting the design right is essential in securing maximum value out of indoor school sports facilities, both for pupils and the local community.

Mhora Samuel, Director at the Theatres Trust, said:

We commend the placing of the theatre at the heart of the new school designs. These are a positive step forward in the planning of theatrical facilities in schools.

Mrs Janet Wilson, head teacher at Ian Ramsey Church of England School, said:

I’m pleased we had the opportunity to work with the proposed designs. They have challenged us to think deeply about our own needs, and helped to clarify our vision for the school we aspire to. We are excited about making the designs a reality.

The designs were commissioned in response to the James Review which called for a set of standardised plans. Contractors can choose to develop these into detailed schemes or propose alternatives; giving schools the freedom to adjust the internal layout to meet the needs of their pupils.

The plans:

  • deliver a 30 per cent cost saving for a 1200 place school compared to an equivalent BSF school, saving the taxpayer around £6 million for an average secondary school;
  • include dramatically improved environmental standards compared to BSF schools;
  • are designed to a cost/square metre price of £1,113 for the school building;
  • will allow the procurement process to progress smoothly;
  • ensure buildings are fit for purpose;
  • allow for modular construction so that parts can be built off-site to reduce costs further;
  • stop the waste of taxpayers money on unnecessary consultancy fees and the unnecessary duplication of design work.

Notes to editors

  1. The designs have been produced using the same area as new academies and free schools. The majority of BSF schools had much more space than they needed by increasing their intake beyond capacity. Area reductions have been achieved by ensuring that all breakout space - social space, generous corridors and ICT storage - is used to full effect without comprising on teaching space or school organisation.

  2. Initially these examples will be used to finalise briefs for new PFI schools through the Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP). The first group of schools to be procured through this programme will go out to market shortly.

  3. Each design has been illustrated in a set of plans, sections and internal perspectives, there is accompanying technical reports on environmental design and fire safety. The materials can be found on the Department for Education’s website.

  4. The designs have been tested on a range of school sizes. Following feedback they will be developed further.

Harry Darby, Capital Projects Director at E-ACT, said:

E-ACT is pleased to have seen the initial proposals for the baseline designs and is very supportive of the proposals. This will provide a useful tool for heads planning a new building and considering different options for their academy or school. We are satisfied that the designs offer a clear and uncomplicated approach to providing effective teaching and learning environments. The designs offer many aspects of best practice and we particularly welcome the quality of the ventilation, acoustics and lighting in all of the teaching spaces.

Tricia Adams, Director at the School Library Association, said:

We are delighted that the library is seen as an important part of the new designs.

Richard Green, Chief Executive, Design and Technology Association and Geoff Howard, National Association of Advisers and Inspectors in D&T, said:

Whilst recognising the financial constraints on these designs, they define a minimum baseline provision for design and technology education as an essential component of a 21st century curriculum for all.

Stephen Hockaday, Director of Education Infrastructure at Laing O’Rourke, said:

Laing O’Rourke is pleased that the EFA have clarified their expectations for new schools. We are targeting the new funding rates and are confident in achieving them, making every effort to drive efficiencies through the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology and Design for Manufacture and Assembly to produce schools that perform to the new environmental standards.

John Lawrence, Duty CEO at the Association of Science Education, said:

The ASE welcomes the opportunity to work with the EFA on these designs and endorses them with regards to science labs as a minimum specification for new build schools. The success of such designs in practice will depend on the detailed design of individual projects.

DfE enquiries

Central newsdesk - for journalists 020 7783 8300

General enquiries - for members of the public 0370 000 2288


Published 2 October 2012