In its response to the Review of Education Capital led by Sebastian James, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) warned the Government against building overly-standardised "identikit" schools.
The review, released today, was completed by Sebastian James as part of the Government's overall review of all capital investment, and sets out recommendations for the Department for Education's future delivery models for 2011-12 onwards.
"The James Review recognises the wastage that took place through Building Schools for the Future (BSF), but over-emphasises as a solution the role of standardisation in school design," said RIBA President Ruth Reed. "There is certainly a case for the standardisation of certain elements of a school building, but the Review fails to recognise that a school which is 'fit for purpose' must meet the needs of its client.
The Housing Minister Grant Shapps recently quite rightly condemned the identikit housing estates that are being churned out up and down the country, and we would be concerned if the pattern-book mass housing delivery model were endorsed by the Education Secretary Michael Gove and applied to schools, which work best when they respond to the needs of students, teachers and the context of a site.
We urge the Government to recognise the complexities in delivering the best new school buildings possible and to reject the over-simplistic approach recommended by the James review. This is not about more work for architects; it is about ensuring the best outcomes for school users and best value for money for the taxpayer."