from English Heritage on a new resource
that helps schools when it comes to refurbishing historic buildings
HE COMING General Election and the debate about future public finances have meant that recent discussion about the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) and Primary Capital Programme (PCP) funding streams has focused not only on whether they
are delivering value for money projects, but also whether they are striking the right balance between replacing existing buildings and refurbishing or remodelling them. Recent figures suggest that 70 per cent of completed
projects to date are demolition and new build – statistics that have clear implications for the historic environment. There are several thousand listed school buildings in
England, with many more having community heritage value in the sense that many local people regard them as cherished landmarks and feel they have a stake in their future. The current school investment programmes are
unique in scale and vital in ensuring that our country’s school estate provides the best possible learning environment for many years to come. Where maintenance and investment in buildings has
been lacking over a number of years, it is understandable that teachers and students find the idea of a bespoke, modern and well equipped building to be the best possible solution – particularly when considering how fast moving changes in both the national curriculum and methods of teaching (including ICT requirements) have been over recent years. There is also a perception that construction of a new
building is more sustainable because it can be designed to reduce energy costs in use – a “greener” building. English Heritage believes that the quality of
education provision should be the top priority for schools and that the historic environment is, more often than not, at the heart of such provision and brings immense educational value. Inspirational surroundings can have a hugely enriching effect on students and teachers alike. Care for heritage and good education need not be
contradictory or force schools and local authorities into false choices. Integration of heritage issues all through the planning and decision-making process can enable the achievement of educational transformation and architectural excellence at the same time as refurbishment and restoration of historic buildings. But of course we are conscious that schools are
faced with many conflicting pressures and challenges, and that dealing with historic buildings does sometimes add an extra layer of complexity. That is why we have recently publishedRefurbishing
Historic School Buildings, which presented a series of case studies where historic school buildings have been refurbished, remodelled and extended. Each project identified successful solutions to issues
such as rising school rolls, updating and modernising ICT facilities, energy efficiency requirements, and comprehensive forward planning for future investment projects.
Does your school have a really successful approach to personal finance education that is worth shouting about?
If so, these awards are for you.
Personal Finance Education Awards
for Schools 2010
in association with pfeg
“The awards are a really good way to try and promote personal finance and fit in well with our school and the focus on Business and Enterprise. Applying for something like this gives the local
community an understanding of what our school does.”
Teacher on 2009 Awards
What are the awards?
The Royal Bank of Scotland Group in association with pfeg (Personal Finance Education Group) is looking for examples of excellence in new awards website www.pfe-awards.co.uk
The deadline for entries is Friday, 23rd April 2010.
We hope it will help people to better understand that
the envelope of an historic building does not mean that a school will be denied the opportunity to modernise facilities or alter the layout of the building to ensure that it is able to provide a top class 21st century educational environment. Perhaps more than any other type of public building,
it is vital that schools remain fit-for-purpose and to do that they must continue to adapt and evolve. English Heritage takes an approach known as
constructive conservation – using the opportunities afforded by programmes such as BSF and PCP to actively manage the change so that the historic significance of the buildings in question is reinforced rather than diluted. Using the philosophy of constructive conservation can retain the character and special features of the buildings that make them of interest, while adapting and equipping them to modern standards and guidelines. Our resource also highlights the fact that demolition
results not only in the loss of a finite resource but also the loss of embodied energy – and the construction of new buildings requires more materials and therefore increased energy costs. We should therefore look to avoid repeating the mistakes of previous investment programmes.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the last large wave of school building in the 1960s produced significant numbers of poor quality buildings that now require much higher levels of maintenance funding and consequent time and effort. Teachers, probably more than anybody else, are aware
of the shortcomings of these buildings and the problems they create. Indeed, some of these buildings are already being replaced by BSF and PCP-funded projects. In contrast, significant numbers of historic school
buildings have proved their flexibility and durability over many years – being adapted to successive generations of students and the ever-evolving curriculum and the way it is taught. The constructive conservation approach can ensure that they continue to do so for many years to come.
• Tim Brennan is a senior regeneration advisor at English Heritage.
English Heritage advice on refurbishing historic school buildings and on undertaking assessments of local authority school estates to help with preparation and planning for the investment process can be found at www.helm.org.uk/historicschools
Part of our heritage
Win up to £1,500 for
your school plus exciting prizes for individuals!
Winners and runners up invited to special
ceremony and activity day.
Help to increase the profile of PFE in your school and share best practice.
This year, a student category has been introduced,
You can email us at:
Or give us a call on:
0207 401 4070
SecEd • March 25 2010
allowing teachers to nominate a student or group of
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