Editor: The built environment has a real opportunity to support the underfunded education sector and provide the learning environments required to properly educate the youth of today.
However, when considering industry constraints and the sheer level of work and funding required across UK school estates, the situation is disheartening.
A meagre 61 out of 1,105 schools that applied for support from the government’s school rebuilding programme earlier this year were successful. Given the Department for Education plans to support only 500 projects over the next decade, funding is significantly short of the £11bn required.
The prioritisation of applications with structural safety issues and severe deterioration of external features is critical. Yet, other building issues such as maintenance and the drive toward net zero are just as essential when considering how we can support the leaders of tomorrow.
Given the backdrop of rising costs, shortages of materials and labour and the short window in which education projects must be completed during the summer break, it is unsurprising that completing these projects is a struggle.
However, compliant procurement through frameworks and a direct award approach offer a glimmer of hope – and will be key to delivering on school rebuilding. Benefits are wide-ranging: there is greater cost and programme certainty, tailored social value outcomes and the ability to sidestep stressful or costly bidding processes.
Take Nottingham College, a recent direct award success for us. The estates team approached us in April and local contractor J Tomlinson was appointed quickly and ensured the project was on track to be completed over summer.
Pupils need excellent school environments to ensure a high-quality learning experience. Given the lack of government funding – and with the tangible success offered by the direct award approach – the built environment sector can facilitate the quality of learning that every child deserves.
Emma Hesbrook, regional relationship manager, Pagabo