The TES is reporting that Lord Nash has said schools struggling to meet the demand for additional pupil places should construct higher buildings.
The minister pointed to New York City, where he said schools were housed in “skyscrapers”, as an example of what could be done. His comments came in a bullish defence of the much-criticised government response to the shortage of school places – a situation he said was actually in “pretty good shape”.
Lord Nash also claimed there was now cross-party acceptance of the role that free schools should play in meeting the need for new places. “I think we’re [doing] well on [pupil places],” he added. “We spent £5 billion in the last Parliament on this and we’ve been given £7 billion assigned for this Parliament. I think that brief is in pretty good shape.”
…Now Lord Nash, speaking in his first interview as a minister, has suggested that headteachers should consider adding more storeys to school buildings to accommodate extra pupils. “We are going to have to see schools going up,” he said. “The idea of schools only being on one or two floors is not essential.”
He stressed that he was not expecting schools to build their own tower blocks, but said: “If you go to New York, there are skyscrapers where the first five floors are offices, then there is a factory, then there is a state school, then there’s a charter school.”
But he added: “We have to be careful they are put in appropriate places – it has just got to be done sensitively…”
Schools in skyscrapers – is that something we are going to have to get used to?
Or, as Lord Nash suggests, is it a model that works perfectly well in other places such as New York?
Maybe the principle is just that schools – presumably like all other buildings – are going to have to get used to cramming more onto much lower footprints in future.
What do you think? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…
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