06 SES 16, The Tried and Trusted or Designing for Innovation? Risks, Benefits and Participation in Developing Innovative + Flexible Educational Facilities Part 1
Symposium to be continued in 06 SES 17
This paper considers the experiences of students and staff through the process of rebuilding an English secondary school under the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP) (Education & Skills Funding Agency, 2014b). Building Schools for the Future (BSF), which ran from 2003, was replaced by PSBP in 2010. BSF, which intended to ‘transform’ education through building facilities designed for the ‘future’ needs of each school (DfES, 2002), was criticised by The James Review (2011) for lacking a definition of ‘transformation’ and for the involvement of staff and students in planning their schools. Other critiques of BSF have pointed to the problems of designing for an undefined 'future’, and research is beginning to suggest that aspects of the non-traditional designs of many BSF schools are proving unpopular in use (Wood, 2017). PSBP excludes participation in design and the possibility of individualised buildings. Instead, functional yet relatively inexpensive, ‘baseline designs’ are adapted to the size and site of the school (Education & Skills Funding Agency, 2014a). These traditional, standardised designs feature cellular classrooms and specialist spaces (science labs, music room, etc.) arranged along corridors. It is possible to see PSBP as an attempt to minimise the risks of school design. In place of the complexity of participatory design transforming education through new spaces for future needs, we have efficient provision of standardised settings for current educational practices. This is the context of the PSBP school rebuilding project that we investigated. The school is a mixed, comprehensive high school (students aged 13-18) with around 750 students on roll. A range of data were collected through staff and students focus groups centred on visual-spatial activities, a questionnaire including items from a survey of student attitudes in a secondary school rebuilt through BSF (Rudd, 2008) and meetings held with the head. Before the move into the new building, we found positive anticipation, particularly among students. Afterwards, there was some evidence of improved use of certain spaces, less concern about some environmental problems and consistent satisfaction with teaching rooms, accompanied by discontent with student support areas and office space. There was overall stability of student attitudes, but a tendency to be critical of the design of the new building and some evidence of students missing aspects of the old school. This mixed picture shows that there are risks inherent in any change, even where design is standardised and traditional, rather than innovative and individual
DfES (2002). Schools for the Future: Designs for Learning Communities Building Bulletin 95. London, TSO. Education & Skills Funding Agency. (2014a). Baseline designs: Guidance. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/baseline-designs-for-schools-guidance/baseline-designs-for-schools-guidance on 25 Jan 2019. Education & Skills Funding Agency. (2014b). Priority School Building Programme (PSBP). Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/priority-school-building-programme-psbp on 25 Jan 2019. James, S. (2011) Review of education capital. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/180876/DFE-00073-2011.pdf Rudd, P., Reed, F. and Smith, P. (2008). The effects of the school environment on young people's attitudes to education and learning. Slough, NFER. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED502369.pdf Wood, A. (2017) A school’s lived architecture: The politics and ethics of flexible learning spaces. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis, Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University. Retrieved 25 Jan 2019 from https://e-space.mmu.ac.uk/618818/
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