Westminster Education Forum

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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

October 2020

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

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

This conference is bringing together key stakeholders with policymakers to examine the priorities for England’s school buildings.

It comes with the announcement by the Prime Minister of ten-year school rebuilding programme worth £1bn which will:

  • target schools in greatest need of repair
  • include investment in schools in the North of England and the Midlands
  • focus on rebuilds being greener and using modern construction methods

The discussion at a glance:

The agenda will bring out latest thinking on developments and key issues including:

  • rollout and delivery - including land acquisition, free schools, and ensuring that schools are built in the areas of greatest need
  • the rebuilding programme - how the new funding should be spent, with further information about the scheme and the projects expected in the autumn Spending Review
  • improving the design and construction process for new schools - including the design of learning spaces, and ensuring that refurbished schools are sustainable and meet long term needs
  • return to school for the new term - with Government recently publishing measures that will need to be put in place by schools - discussion on
    • the way schools are adapting - the new pressures caused by the pandemic and what it means for the future
    • safety and hygiene for pupils and staff - implementation of class and year group-sized bubbles, and encouraging older pupils to social distance where possible
    • creating space - how schools are managing the pressure of social distancing, through for example using shared local facilities
    • adapting processes - looking at steps such as reduced use of shared items, and staggered lunchtimes and breaks
    • varied approaches 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 - the implications of adapting buildings in the short and longer term
    • pupil experience - mitigating the impact of adaptation measures on the learning environment, and on attainment
    • learning from change - opportunities for schools to improve the design of buildings and spaces are used - and how the potential role of technology will change

Developments that are relevant to the discussion:

  • school repairs and upgrades - announcement by the Government of a further £560m in funding the 2020-2021 academic year
  • the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme - including plans to retrofit schools with low-carbon heating technology
  • 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
  • Modern Methods of Construction - successful applications to work on the DfE’s £3bn programme to support use of MMC, with an aim of delivering 30 offsite schools a year for the next four years
  • the free school programme - government continuing to support the delivery of the initiative

The discussion in detail:

  • The impact of COVID-19 - on school buildings and adapting to social distancing:
    • modernising existing buildings - adapting older parts of the estate to changes resulting from the pandemic
    • assessing the opportunities - the potential impact of necessary changes on improving how schools use learning space and edtech
  • School building programmes - the PSBP and the new ten-year school building programme, which is expected to allocate a larger amount per project than under the PSBP:
    • impact - the first phase of the PSBP and the lessons that can be learned and applied to PSBP2, which is expected to be completed in 2022
    • targeting investment - towards areas of greatest need for new and improved buildings, with government indicating an increased focus on the North of England and the Midlands
    • value for money - how it can be ensured, particularly when new funding is allocated
    • engaging with contractors - addressing issues with attracting interest from the construction and other sectors in supporting the programme
    • sustainability - concerns around the lack of renewable energy sources used in the rebuilding of facilities, with Government promising greener buildings
  • Design and safety of learning spaces and school buildings:
    • new architectural approaches - how they can be used to support improved learning experiences within the classroom
    • technology - enabling the delivery of buildings with up-to-date technology equipment
    • older school buildings - ensuring new health and safety standards and regulations are met, particularly following concerns around the use of cladding on buildings
    • accessibility - priorities for ensuring suitability of schools for all pupils, including those with SEND
  • Modern Methods of Construction (MMC):
    • the ambition - 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
    • potential impact - prospects for the programme setting new standards for the building and development of schools
    • transferability - 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:
    • rollout - next steps in the delivery of new free schools
    • positive impact - what will be needed from free schools within the school system
  • Building new schools - including practicalities:
  • acquisition and use of land - and the progress of LocatEd in supporting this process
  • serving local needs - how to ensure new schools provide facilities to support their communities 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
    • How does the environment affect learning?
    • 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.

This conference seems no different. Places have 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

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles