Westminster Education Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
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Next steps for school buildings in England - rollout and delivery, serving local needs, and the future for design, construction and adapting schools in the wake of COVID-19

Morning, Tuesday, 15th September 2020

Online Conference

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will examine the priorities for England’s school buildings.

The discussion will take place in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, at the time that the majority of young people are likely to be returning to school in September for the first time since the crisis began.

We expect much of the discussion on the day to focus on issues related to the way schools are adapting to the new pressures caused by the pandemic, and what it means for the future, including:

  • how buildings can be managed safely and hygienically for pupils and staff - including experience of the practicalities of implementing the new 1 metre social distancing measures in potentially expanded social bubbles of 30, particularly in primary schools
  • how schools can find the extra space required to implement these measures, through for example using shared local facilities
  • measures that schools have taken to adapt their buildings and the way they are used, looking at steps such as:
    • reduced use of shared items
    • staggered lunchtimes and breaks
    • varied approaches for schools in different settings, looking at factors such as urban and rural locations, the age of school buildings, access to technology, outdoor space and school site sizes
  • cost implications of adapting buildings in the short and longer term
  • the impact that adaptation measures will have on pupil experience of school as a learning environment, and on pupil attainment
  • opportunities that the changes offer schools to improve the design of buildings and how learning spaces are used - and how the potential role of technology will change

Looking beyond the COVID-19 crisis, the agenda will bring out latest developments and thinking on key issues including:

  • the rollout and delivery of buildings, including land acquisition, free schools, and ensuring that schools are built in the areas of greatest need
  • improving the design and construction process for new schools
  • ensuring that refurbished schools are sustainable and meet long term needs
  • the design of learning spaces

Developments that are relevant to the discussion:

  • Schools considering the impact of COVID-19 on learning spaces in the context of the Government’s ambition for all children to return to school in September and the implementation of social distancing in schools
  • The Priority School Building Programme, now in its second phase (PSBP2) - with a commitment for 277 schools to be refurbished by 2022 through capital grants
  • Commitment by Government of £400m for schools to improve their facilities, with applications favoured from trusts with prudent financial records
  • Successful applications to work on the Department’s £3bn programme to support use of Modern Methods of Construction, with an aim of delivering 30 offsite schools a year for the next four years
  • Government continuing to support the development of the free school programme in delivering new schools

The discussion in detail:

The impact of COVID-19 on school buildings and adapting to social distancing:

  • modernising existing buildings - particularly older parts of the estate - to adapt to changes resulting from the pandemic
  • the opportunities that the necessary changes will offer in improving how schools use learning space and edtech

The Priority School Building Programme - the impact of the first phase and the lessons that can be learned and applied to PSBP2, with discussion expected on:

  • how investment can be better targeted towards those areas of greatest need of new and improved buildings
  • ensuring value for money
  • addressing issues with attracting interest from contractors in supporting the programme
  • concerns around the lack of renewable energy sources used in the rebuilding of facilities and delays to the construction process

Design and safety of the school classrooms and buildings, including latest thinking on:

  • the future design of learning spaces
  • how new architectural approaches can be used to support improved learning experiences within the classroom
  • enabling the delivery of buildings that are equipped with the latest technology
  • modernisation of older school buildings, and ensuring new health and safety standards and regulations are met - particularly following concerns around the use of cladding on buildings
  • priorities for ensuring the accessibility of schools for all pupils, including those with SEND

Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), looking at:

  • the Department’s £3bn programme to support the use of MMC, with an aim of delivering 30 offsite schools a year for the next four years
  • the potential impact of the programme in setting a new standard for the building and development of schools
  • how new methods of construction can be applied to other projects

Free schools - as the Government continues to support the development of the programme in delivering new schools, examining:

  • next steps in the delivery of new free schools
  • what will be needed to ensure that they can deliver the most positive impact within the school system

The wider programme of building new schools, including:

  • the acquisition and use of land to support the building of schools - and the progress of LocatEd in supporting this process
  • how to ensure they provide facilities to support their local community and that they are meeting environmental standards

The agenda:

  • Policy priorities for school buildings
  • Rolling out new school buildings:
    • Best practice in acquisition and use of land for schools
    • Assessing progress on the Priority School Building Programme
    • Next steps for increasing the number of free schools across England
  • Delivering school buildings that serve long term need in local communities - siting decisions, use of new funding, and meeting environmental standards
  • Use of MMC in school buildings and meeting modern demands - upgrading current facilities, regulations and standards, and accessibility and safety
  • The future design of learning spaces in the context of COVID-19 and adapting to social distancing in schools - modernising old builds, improving classroom design and creating opportunities to utilise edtech

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have already been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons Library, and officials from the Department for Education and the Department for Work and Pensions.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Rory Kennedy

Director of Capital, Department for Education

Keynote Speakers

Rory Kennedy

Director of Capital, Department for Education

Lara Newman

Chief Executive, LocatED

Unity Howard

Director, New Schools Network


Steve McCabe MP

Tom Hunt MP


Councillor James McInnes

Cabinet Member Children’s Services & Schools, Devon County Council

Councillor Wayne Daley

County Councillor for Cramlington North, Deputy leader and Portfolio Holder for Children's Services, Northumberland County Council

Andrew Pryke

Head of Design, BAM Construct UK

Imran Kassim

Regional Director, AHR

Debbie Whiting

Headteacher, North Denes Primary School

Debra Massey

Headteacher, Howe Dell Primary School

Robbie Blackhurst

Framework Director, Procure Partnerships Framework

Sue Emms

Principal, Architecture, North Chair and Education Sector Lead, BDP

Helen Roberts

Partner, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Caroline Wright

Director General, British Educational Suppliers Association and Member, Department for Education EdTech Leadership Group