Decade-long School Rebuilding Programme launched to level up education

Published by Rhys Taylor-Brown on October 6th 2021, 2:02pm

In mid-September, newly appointed education secretary Nadhim Zahawi spent a day on site at the West Coventry Academy, which is to be among the first 100 schools to be rebuilt as part of the ten-year School Rebuilding Programme.

The programme will carry out major rebuilding and refurbishment projects at schools and sixth form colleges across England, with all new buildings to be net zero carbon.

West Coventry Academy will be entirely rebuilt as part of a £38.4 million project and equipped with a new sports hall, which will also be used to serve the local community.

The new buildings will be designed to operate with reduced energy and help the UK’s drive toward net zero by 2050.

Consultation is underway currently as to how the government will prioritise schools to benefit from the School Rebuilding Programme going forward.

The education secretary said: “We are revolutionising the school estate to future proof both our children’s education and the environment, with new school buildings that are net zero in operation - leading the charge for more sustainable schools and supporting students and teachers to make a positive impact on the environment.

“These rebuilds and refurbishments, with the first 100 projects backed by £2 billion of government funding, will create world-leading education facilities, from classrooms and science labs to sports halls and dining rooms.”

The Department for Education is to use the upcoming COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow to showcase how school sites are to be made more sustainable and eco-friendlier, with ministers to promote climate change education and encourage the next generation of school pupils to support biodiversity and consider their impact on the planet.

Research is also being carried out into how school buildings could lower their carbon footprint even further, exploring factors such as construction and layout of school sites, increased use of outdoor spaces within school builds, and more energy efficient ways to power buildings.

The School Rebuilding Programme is a positive development for the country’s state schools, providing encouragement that they will in years to come benefit from similar upgraded facilities to their independent counterparts.

Cherwell College Oxford is one co-educational boarding and day school that has been investing in the future with regards to its facilities for some time. Having began life as a tutorial college almost 50 years ago, it now provides A-level and GCSE education for students aged 12 to 19, with teaching taking place in small-group classes.

Its site is equipped with four floors of teaching rooms, a library, a café area and a seminar room which doubles up as an exam room. These facilities are supplemented by a range of state-of-the-art science labs and an arts studio, all located in the city centre.

In 2015, the college’s boarding facility, Cherwell House, opened to support boarding students. It is kitted out with 55 rooms which come with their own shower/wet room and a study desk, as well as laundry and medical rooms.

The college principal Stephen Clarke said of the facilities: “Cherwell House comes with a bright, modern feel which makes it a perfect place for students to unwind after a long day – and the garden provides a great outdoor space for students to enjoy the natural environment and some games, as well as barbecues in the summer months.”

Cherwell College enrol from a worldwide catchment area, truly inclusive, with students from the widest possible range of backgrounds aiming for Russell Group universities and a philosophy that raises expectations, for everyone, always.

Throughout the onset of the pandemic Cherwell College were immediately able to transfer their teaching to an online platform so that students did not lose any study days and were able to complete their syllabus. 

Independent schools of Cherwell College Oxford’s ilk have so often set the standards for how education in the UK should be delivered. With the government hoping now to make the latest facilities and outdoor spaces accessible to all, observing how this part of the levelling up agenda plays out over the coming years will be most fascinating for all involved in the education sector.

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Authored By

Rhys Taylor-Brown
Junior Editor
October 6th 2021, 2:02pm

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