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Schools to be built smaller in money-saving move

01/10/2012 Joanna
New schools are set to be built smaller as the coalition looks to save money to reduce the deficit, according to a new report.

Those applying for teaching vacancies at these new schools should not notice a difference in the space reserved for teaching, as the savings are likely to be made in corridors, assembly halls, canteens and atriums, the Guardian reports. The minimum size of a classroom is likely to be maintained at around 54 sq m.

Under Labour's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, the average school building cost of £21 million, but the coalition hopes this can be reduced to £14 million by making new builds 15 per cent smaller.

BSF was cancelled in 2010, after education secretary Michael Gove said it would have been "irresponsible" to continue with it.

"More for less is the theme of what we are trying to do with education capital," commented Peter Lauener, chief executive of the government's Education Funding Agency.

"It is not quite buy one, get one free. It is a three-for-two proposition."

Despite the need to reduce public spending and the focus on communal rather than teachings areas, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) told the news provider that it is concerned narrower corridors could cause bullying problems.

"The spaces outside the classroom are vital to the culture and climate of a school and to have well-ordered corridors is key," explained Kevin Courtney, NUT deputy general secretary.

"In a secondary school, there are potentially 1,000 pupils changing lessons at exactly the same time and, if corridors are narrow, it will lead to them bumping into one another and that could lead to discipline problems."

Although there are some reservations, Mr Gove is understood to have instructed contractors to start drawing up the scaled-down plans, with up to ten schools at a time set to be built to a standardised model.

"A school building should be a safe and welcoming environment in which great teaching can take place, but it is teachers who will inspire children, not buildings," Mr Lauener added.

Posted by Tim Colman. ADNFCR-2164-ID-801460996-ADNFCR
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