- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 23 Feb 2017
Building Schools for the Future BSF
The Buildings Schools for the Future (BSF) programme was a government investment scheme for secondary schools in England. It was announced by the DfES in February 2003, by the Labour Schools Minister David Miliband who said: “School buildings should inspire learning. They should nurture every pupil and member of staff. They should be a source of pride and a practical resource for the community”
In a 2003 consultation document, the Labour government suggested that ‘Every child deserves to learn in modern school buildings with state-of-the-art facilities. We want local communities to ensure that over the next 10 to 15 years all secondary pupils can learn in modern accommodation, fully suited to their needs and to the challenges of the 21st Century.’ Ref DfES Building schools for the future, Consultation on a new approach to capital investment, 2003.
The programme was launched by Tony Blair in 2004, however, it was scrapped by the Conservative Education Secretary, Michael Gove in July 2010 as it was considered to be wasteful and over-bureaucratic.
Whilst it was operational, Buildings Schools for the Future was widely described as the biggest school building programme since Victorian times. The government planned to allocate £55 billion to rebuild every secondary school in England. Inspirational buildings and state of the art facilities would be provided for pupils and staff to make them feel valued and to encourage new ways of learning. In the first instance, the government prioritised funding for 14 projects in 17 socially deprived local authorities, in an effort to raise education standards and promote social mobility.
Local authorities oversaw the projects, and discussions took place with school governors, staff, pupils and the local community, who were key parts of the process. Schools developed a vision of their needs, then a private sector partner would realise their vision by carrying out the design and construction. For the multi-billion pound investment to be sustainable, the new facilities had to be flexible, as it was considered difficult to predict what education would look like in the future.
However, the programme was hit by many problems which meant that the original programme slipped. Getting building started quickly, in particular in the most deprived areas of the country, was a significant task, and reshaping education provision and rebuilding schools took time to plan.
More than 70 local councils had joined the programme by the second year but only 5 had reached a level where they could commence building. The original targets were seen as too ambitious and the actual quality and design of half the schools built was considered to be poor or mediocre.
The government believed that local authorities lacked the management expertise to oversee these big school projects, and so they were required to pass a readiness test to be eligible for BSF money, and client design advisors were introduced to maintain quality.
However, Gove continued to believe that BSF was characterised by "massive overspends, tragic delays, botched construction projects and needless bureaucracy", and controversially, criticised fees charged by architects, suggesting that that they were “creaming off cash” under BSF (Ref Construction Manager, Architects cream off over £1m in BSF advice fees 3 December 2010) and proposing that in future school building programmes, “We won’t be getting Richard Rogers to design your school. We won’t be getting any award-winning architects to design it, because no one in this room is here to make architects richer.”
When the programme was cancelled, around 150 schools were left in limbo. In the end about 75 of these schools were given the go ahead. By June 2010, 178 schools were rebuilt or refurbished with a further 231 under construction.
The Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP) was established in 2011 to address the needs of those schools that remained in the worst condition. The government now believes that schools are being developed much faster and cheaper under the PSBP than those developed under Building Schools for the Future. It took around 3 years for construction work to begin under the BSF, whereas under the PSBP this has been reduced to 1 year. PSBP projects are thought to have cost around a third less.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Baseline designs for schools.
- Building Bulletin 93: acoustic design of schools.
- Free schools.
- House of Commons, Treasury - Seventeenth Report: Private Finance Initiative.
- Independent Client Advisers.
- Major Projects Authority.
- Priority School Building Programme.
- Public private partnership
- Public procurement.
- RIBA client adviser.
Featured articles and news
This article examines the changing policy commitments and evolving definitions of the zero carbon home.
Researchers believe they may have created a 'game-changing' new form of concrete using graphene.
Grouting refers to the injection of materials into a soil or rock formation to change its physical characteristics.
Part of Designing Buildings Wiki, BREEAM Wiki will advance knowledge sharing for the BRE family of sustainability tools.
From the decorative to the utilitarian, and from the photographed to the forgotten.
New BRE book considers the progression from project-based knowledge creation to whole-life urban knowledge management.
This CIOB article explores the concept of value in building design and construction.
BREEAM and Measurabl announce integration to improve the financial performance of commercial real estate.
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners' release new images of soon-to-open 3WTC tower in New York.
A document can be called a bond or a guarantee. Does the name matter and what is the difference between them?
New briefing note is launched focusing on increasing knowledge of housing that promotes health and wellbeing.
Arbitration is a private, contractual form of dispute resolution used in the construction industry.