Saturday, 24 July 2010

The role of buildings in education

The axing of school rebuilding projects continues to dominate the news (no doubt fueled by Ed Balls' Labour leadership campaign). Forgetting the regretful way in which the news was disseminated to the public, it raises an interesting question over what role school buildings play in education. This article provides an interesting reflection on both sides of the argument:

Without appearing to sit on the fence too much, I take a rather more pragmatic view that sits between the two views shared above. Most importantly the building should be structurally sound and meet all required building standards.

Repairing any school buildings with leaky roofs and unsafe playgrounds must be the priority. But I do wonder if architects have blown the BSF project out of proportion and see it as a cash cow to design over elaborate new schools. I don't doubt Rowan Moore's comments that good architecture can inspire children, but this does not require multi-million pound development projects. I would hope that creativity and imagination in the built form can still be demonstrated on a smaller scale.

Greater attention should be focused on meeting best practice standards for school buildings (see this CABE research). Only once every school in the country has met these minimum standards can the attention shift to more elaborate design schemes and innovations.

1 comment:

  1. I imagine that most pupils don't really give a flying one, but I remember the adjustment going from a fairly nicely maintained, if ageing, colourful school to the concrete and plain walled monotony at Leeds... I'm sure the environment has an impact on creative thinking (as at least one lecturer off on a secondment to a foreign university confidently predicted), then again if kids these days are just being taught to pass exams...