Smaller school buildings proposed

Ministers are set to unveil templates for new school buildings, which could be up to 15% smaller than those built under the last government, it has been reported.

Under the plans, the size of corridors, halls and canteens will be reduced as part of a bid to help keep down the costs of creating new school buildings, according to the Guardian newspaper.

It said that the "baseline designs", which will form the blueprints for 261 replacement school buildings due to be created over the next five years at a cost of £2.5 billion, have been drawn up by the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and will be published this week.

Builders and architects who win contracts to create the new buildings will use the templates as a starting point. On average, each new school is expected to cost £7 million less than under the Labour Government's £55 billion Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme.

Government officials have told prospective builders to trim 15% from school space, before tenders for contracts are issued next month. Minimum classroom size is set to remain at around 54 sq metres, so the cuts are likely to come from other areas of buildings, such as corridors and halls, the Guardian reported.

EFA chief executive Peter Lauener told the newspaper: "More for less is the theme of what we are trying to do with education capital.

"We are looking to come out with an average school building cost of under £14 million compared to £21 million under the BSF programme. It is not quite buy one, get one free. It is a three for two proposition."

He added that in the past, architects had been guilty of including too many "fripperies" in school buildings.

Ministers have previously mooted plans to create templates for new schools, which they have said will create better quality and cost-efficient buildings.

In April 2011, an independent review by Sebastian James concluded that the BSF programme failed to provide consistent quality, or low cost, and that schools were created to "bespoke" designs. It called for future new buildings to be based on "a clear set of standardised drawings" which would effectively mean that new schools could be identical to each other.