Your school’s got no room for extra pupils? It’s time to build upwards…

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…”

More at: Your school’s got no room for extra pupils? It’s time to build upwards…


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…


High rise schools - an acceptable way to create enough school places?


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Categories: Free Schools, Local authorities and Policy.


  1. lennyvalentino

    SchoolsImprove Doubt there is either the will or the cash to do this.Whole school would have to move elsewhere while the work is done.

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Does Lord Nash live in a twee, imaginary world where money is limitless and planning departments don’t exist? #justwondering

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Those suggesting making schools bigger as the answer all have one thing in common: no classroom experience. Weird that

  4. In theory, why not? I went to a 4 storey high secondary school, and I’ve visited many four or even five storey primary schools in London. Of course, getting the design right for children and their educational, wellbeing and developmental needs is an entirely different matter.

  5. brighton118

    SchoolsImprove “the brief is on pretty good shape” !!!!****** Why does this person have such an influence ?Spare us from these ivory towers

  6. pipkinzoo

    SchoolsImprove oh please no, I work in a four storey sixties monstrosity and it’s not fun. Good luck designing stairs that would work!

  7. Has the noble Lord considered accessibility?   Presuming the money could be found for the extension upwards, where exactly will the lift shaft go to allow pupils in wheelchairs to reach the upper stories?
    Lord Nash seems keen on shared premises.  Does he expect all people working in the building to have Disclosure and Barring checks?  Or can that consideration be brushed aside?

  8. alarter

    SchoolsImprove easier said than done. Who’s going to pay for that? There’s not enough money in the pot as it is.

  9. Dai_James1942

    SchoolsImprove #GreatEducationHoax – Pile it high and sell it cheap (well, marginally less ruinously expensive)

  10. TW

    Presumably this relates to the latest estimate of immigration set to increase UK population size by another 10 million.  The problems this causes are exactly why the UK, along with most other ‘advanced’ countries, spent decades implementing what was a UN initiative to restrict or reduce population size.  Of course, that was before the misruling class hit on the wheeze of increasing population to increase GNP while per capita GNP remained static or declined.

  11. peterabarnard

    SchoolsImprove Sorry, it is essential. Build flats on top if there’s a shortage of land…£40m school = 80 apartments

  12. lennyvalentino

    SchoolsImprove This isn’t going to work! Schools would have to relocate for months even if it were possible to add floors.

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