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VIEWS & OPINION


Adapting to stay ahead: innovation and


collaboration is needed to


schools estate save the UK’s’s


Comment byMARK ROBINSON, Scape Group chief executive


the basic right of every child in the UK, but Access to high-quality education should be


faced with an impending boom in pupil numbers and an unfavourable funding model,


many cash-strapped local authorities are feeling the pressure, and are struggling to deliver for our school-aged population.


New statistics from the Department for Education have revealed that more than 170,000 children lost out on a place at their preferred primary or secondary school for the new school year this autumn.


At the same time, we have seen the highest number of secondary school applicants in 12 years. But as with many critical issues that are desperately in need of political attention, education has dropped down the political agenda as government bodies focus on Brexit and negotiating our future position with the rest of the world.


The number of children missing out is likely to increase in the coming years. Our School Places Challenge 2019 report reveals that by the academic year 2021/22, England will see more than 313,164 additional secondary school pupils looking for places in the next two years – an increase of over 9 per cent.


When we conducted the first iteration of this research in 2016, the UK was experiencing annual growth of 2.4 per cent in primary school pupils, but since then local authorities have made great strides in increasing the number of primary schools, largely by making sure that developers build new schools through Section 106 agreements. However, as these children are progressing from primary to secondary education, the demand has shifted, and we now need to focus on building new secondary schools.


While the Brexit fallout has created a vast amount of socioeconomic uncertainty, knowing your child will be able to get a place at their preferred local primary or secondary school should be a constant. Local authorities cannot be expected to provide the new schools and classrooms required to equip children with a high-quality education while contending with reduced budgets, and it is clear that with limited options, further innovation is needed in order to squeeze more out of less.


We must collectively focus on delivering a strategy and solutions which not only provide engaging, modern spaces for teaching and learning, but also offer our colleagues in local authorities cost certainty, value for money and timely delivery.


oject delivery but can also cost local authorities significantly less, whilst creating high-quality spaces for pupils to thrive. On average it is 30% faster to produce plans for a modular building in comparison to a traditional build, which means it is possible to reach ‘design freeze’ earlier. This allows architects to spend more time considering how staff and pupils will use the building and its spaces day to day.


Key to this strategy is the use of innovative solutions such as standardised design and technologies such as offsite construction. ModernMethods of Construction (MMC) not only enable more efficient proj


Until the government takes more pragmatic action, they cannot claim to be safeguarding the futures of the UK’s young people. However, original thinking and collaboration between the public and private sector will go some way to ensuring we give the next generation a fighting chance.


Download the full report, School Place scapegroup.co.uk/research


k/ ces Challenge 2019, from


Don’t get tripped up by gro


of trees on sites has to be demonstrably proportionate to the level of ris k in that location.


roundsmaintenance risks Comment by Jason Petsch, CEO, Gritit


For schools the maintenance and upkeep of playgrounds, car parks and landscapes is often more a matter of managing risks than of aesthetics. Despite this, I would argue that too many educational organisations may be failing to adequately plan to mitigate hazards in the outdoor environment.


While we’re nowhere near our American cousins when it comes to ambulance chasing, recent years have seen the flourishing of a compensation culture fuelled by “no win no fee”


legal services. Public sector bodies are increasingly feeling the mounting cost of such cases, with accidents from trips and falls having the greatest potential for high value claims: For example, after a s ice, oneWestMidlands pupil was awarded £35,000.


In the public sector lip on playground


as a whole slips, trips and falls account for 28%of employee injuries according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).Meanwhile, broken car parks are also taking their toll: Councils in England andWales paid out £7.3m in personal claims, 82%of which were the result of potholes.


Safety Executive (HSE), falling trees or branches kill between 5-6 people a planning and risk assessment. For example, according to the Health and Other environmental dangers can be increased by a lack of effective


particularly following an incident”, and recommends that management low level of overall risk may not be perceived in this way by the public, year.While this is a relatively rare occurrence, the HSE notes that “the


2 2 www.education-today.co.uk


Fortunately, outdoor risks and liabilities can be effectively mitigated by having the right plans and processes in place. Indeed, whether it’s a robust winter maintenance plan for snow and ice clearance, a regime for tree inspections or a schedule for inspecting car parks for potholes, organisations need to develop systems that can be embedded into their health and safety policies and procedures. In the event of an accident, the existence – or non-existence of such systems for identifying, reporting and managing risks will be a key focus of any investigations. Conversely, the ability to evidence the steps taken to reasonably mitigate risks can be the key to avoiding the worst legal consequences, such as prosecutions


So what does an effective plan look like? Let’ for criminal negligence.


s take as an example key


elements of an effective plan for handling snowy and icy conditions. This should include :


• Clearly defined and communicated responsibilities,


• A process for documenting the proactive actions, incidents and investigations undertaken with records maintained for a minimum of three years ,


• Ensuring the plan is based on detailed surveys to identify hazard areas, • Adequate resourcing – whether via specialist contractors or in house - with a dedicated, trained team, sufficient and well-maintained PPE, • Clearly defined KPIs to measure performance against and a process to review the plan and any KPIs on a regular basis (at least bi-annually), • Create a plan using a recognised health and safety management system (such as OHSAS1800115).


Although these elements are best practice for taking on snow and ice, the same professional discipline and principles (identifying roles and responsibilities, documenting activity and reviewing against KPIs) can be applied to any other outdoor maintenance contexts where risks may arise.


July/Augus t 2019 y/


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