My word, this is a surprise!

Four fifths of Britain’s schools are being used “beyond their life cycle” and should be replaced with buildings which provide a healthier learning environment, a new report claims.

Britain’s children are being failed by schools which “aren’t fit for purpose”, according to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

People who would make a lot of money rebuilding schools think we should rebuild schools.

Stunning stuff, eh?

17 comments on “My word, this is a surprise!

  1. My 1980s schooldays were spent in C14th monastic buildings and wooden RAF sheds left over from WW2.

    “Didn’t do me any harm.”

  2. What Shinsei1967 said.

    A school’s quality depends on the quality of the staff, not the buildings.

  3. What Ljh said
    So are Eton, Harrow etc
    Also Durham University uses a bit of old castle
    It’s the new stuff which is letting pupils down

  4. Also, did I just dream this, or did Labour not spunk metric fuck-tons of cash on shiny new school buildings, with no corresponding increase in the ability of children to read good, or do other stuff good too?

    (I’m assuming by “healthier learning environment” they’re talking about an environment more conducive to helping the kiddies learn, not whether the canteen serves powdered asbestos or the drinking fountains are full of frogspawn. My school was so decrepit there was still rude graffiti about the Kaiser in the bogs).

  5. Well, my school (to which I had to walk both ways with feet wrapped in barbed wire, etc etc) was actually so decrepit and overcrowded that they were planning a move pretty much the whole time I was there, and moved to a new, much more suitable, building just after I left.

    The old building was certainly inadequate, and in some ways bloody useless – some of the classrooms got too hot in direct sunlight to learn anything, because everyone including the teacher would fall asleep. Generally, though, it didn’t make much difference to the quality of the academic education, except maybe making it harder for the school to attract and keep good teachers. (The rats had a lot to do with that as well.)

    Where it did make a big difference, though, was in the non-academic aspects of an education. By the time everyone had finished battling the building, there was no time, space, or spare effort for any of the broader activities that constitute part of a good education – before/after school clubs weren’t possible, for example.

  6. Actually, I did attend my Victorian primary school wearing clogs, so there!

    Oops, I’ve just checked: the building was actually Georgian.

  7. dearieme – “Actually, I did attend my Victorian primary school wearing clogs, so there! Oops, I’ve just checked: the building was actually Georgian.”

    My primary school also had a Georgian building. I think. It was the nicest they had and so naturally was used by the central administration. The actual teaching took place in a bunch of fibre board pre-fabs and what most people on the other side of the pond would call mobile homes.

    Can’t say it helped or hindered the progress, such as it was, of education going on. We mostly got in the way of the teachers’ tea breaks.

  8. “Where it did make a big difference, though, was in the non-academic aspects of an education. By the time everyone had finished battling the building, there was no time, space, or spare effort for any of the broader activities that constitute part of a good education – before/after school clubs weren’t possible, for example.”

    Really? In what way were your classrooms ‘substandard’? Did they have no roof or windows for example, or heating? Perhaps there were no electric lights? Or no chairs and tables? One wonders what exactly could have prevented their use as an after school club, given unionised teachers taught in them, which they would never have done so if they lacked any of the basic amenities.

    A more likely reason that there were no after school clubs was nothing to do with the state of repair of the classrooms, and everything to do with the teachers and management of the school.

  9. I had a no frills education in the colonies: fifty to a class in a prefab due to the babyboom exceeding the supply of classrooms and teachers. The teacher, Mrs Louw, was of that generation of educated and intelligent women for whom teaching was regarded as a natural ambition (she would have been a CEO a generation later), ably backed up by a headmaster with a cane for boys and a ruler for girls. On literacy, numeracy and general knowledge I trump my children.

  10. Britain’s children are being failed by schools which “aren’t fit for purpose”

    He’s probably right, but the building itself is the least of their concerns.

  11. Although Edinburgh Council has its priorities right. Spunk £1bn up the wall on an unneeded and unwanted tram line. Meanwhile the crappy 60s built school buildings are falling down. Despite parents warnings about them being unsafe, little maintenance is done on them. The result? A girl was killed by a wall collapsing on her at her school.

    So there is a difference between an old building and an unsafe one. Unfortunately the “authorities” don’t always recognise the difference.

  12. @ Dave
    In which country did you go to school? Direct sunlight is rarely a problem in Britain.
    Also when? Before/after school clubs – a before school club is just not credible if one has to leave home just after dawn to get to school in time for Assembly.

  13. Glendorran makes the valid point that *a few* school buildings have passed beyond the end of their useful life because 1960s public sector architects were so enthused by “modern” thinking that they lost sight of their core duty of designing buildings fit for purpose. Some 1960s school buildings deserve to be demolished like the 1960s tower blocks. Coincidentally *all* such buildings are public sector designed by members of RIBA. Come back Charles (or rather, don’t go away) all is forgiven!
    The far older buildings in which I was educated were all still fit for purpose 40/50 years later (although one school of the three was closed due to a decline in the number of children in the catchment area, and the second had to relocate to larger premises, the third and oldest is still going strong)

  14. I went to only three schools… Infant – built probably in the 20s or 30s, Junior – certainly Victorian, Grammar – ditto. All three are still in use. Despite such handicaps as 40+ to a class in Junior school (the 32 to a class at Grammar seemed like under-utilisation!!) I think that I managed to receive a more-than-decent education.

    Additionally, thanks to the tender ministrations of a psychopathic bastard of a Head Master at junior school I doubt that anyone left the place at the age of 11 unable to read, write and count!

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