Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Schools Programme: could do better

The Sustainable Development committee, which I chair, has been carrying out a review of the extent to which the ongoing BSF (Building Schools for the Future) programme is sustainable. As well as the more obvious things like solar panels on roofs, we've been looking at things like community access to buildings out of hours, school travel plans and the procurement process.

Members of the committee visited 3 recently-built schools in the borough (Prendergast Ladywell Fields, Catford High and Sedgehill) and last week I presented our interim recommendations to the Mayor & Cabinet. Some of the recurring issues with these new schools are problems with ventilation (classrooms with windows that don't open and air conditioning that doesn't work), limited/no community use of buildings out of hours and ongoing issues with facilities management.

The article above from the South London Press has a bit more detail. Note to self: send a more flattering/photoshopped portrait photo to SLP for future use!


Rach said...

So will the broader recommendations be considered for the new build at Gordonbrock, or is it already too late?

The Government have wonderful brochures on sustainable schools and outdoor classrooms, but Gordonbrock seem to be on the verge of redeveloping the site so that these are pretty well ruled out.

The KS2 playground is currently 2300m2. The new KS2 playground is 1892m2, minus any area taken up for bike sheds and assuming the whole area is usable at playtime.That area also needs to accommodate the extra 60 children?

KS1 and reception children currently have 1726m2 of playground. This will be reduced to 954m2.That includes the area that is currently the bug trail on both calculations. There will be an additional 45 children.

The reception area will be getting an improved outdoor space increasing from the current 253m2 to approx 410m2, if the full extent is used. There will be the extra 15 children for the area. The downside is that it will be up against the main road.

So our healthy sustainable school for the nation that has a Children's Plan to improve the lot of British children will be giving the infants 3.5m2 of playground each and the juniors 5.25m2 each.

If anyone has a problem visualising what this means, then imagine the carpark at Ashmead school. Approximatly 5 carparks is the area of the playground for the 270 infants and approximately 10 of them will accommodate the 360 juniors.

Is it just me who doesn't think this has taken onboard the government's ideals for making Britain the best place in the world for children to grow up in. As for sustainable...?

Sue said...

Hi Rachel
The planning application has to be considered under planning policy as it stands, however inadequate that can sometimes feel.

Our committee's recommendations about the BSF programme don't have much clout unless the Mayor agrees with them and supports them, as pretty much all the decision-making power lies with him under the system as it stands!

Hopefully the points you raise about play areas are ones we can discuss at the meeting on 26th.

I found this briefing online from DFES which includes guidelines for classroom sizes, play area space etc, but I couldn't find a date on it anywhere to know if it's the most up-to-date document to look at -will need to dig a bit more.

M said...

Can you really pay no attention to the recommended areas for playground and outdoor classrooms? I imagine Gordonbrock doesn't come close to meeting any playground space guidelines at the moment, so it seems more than shocking that a whole load of professionals are making it even worse.

Has the nursery got more space?

Rach said...

Apparently, because other urban schools have problems with space, they don't think it is an issue that they are drastically reducing the playground area. (by over 50% for KS1 and reception)

The nursery has a similar area to the existing nursery, but I think there will be two nursery classes. So the children will have half the space they currently enjoy.

M said...

I see that the Victorian Society have written a scathing letter of objection to the demolition of Gordonbrock School. I suppose the mayor will think again that there are people who care more about "Edwardian sinks" than children's education. Although I think we now have confirmation that Lewisham education care little about children's well being. They would continue to have them all experience massive upheaval to return to over heated buildings and tiny playgrounds. Why do we have to be treated so badly, is this a problem nationwide?