Headlines: December 8th, 2005

The Scottish Executive is facing a call today to be more courageous and creative with its school building programme or it will miss an opportunity for real reform in Scotland’s schools. A conference today will look at a number of reform initiatives, including the development of integrated schools, which bring education closer to health and social work to meet a child’s wider needs and those of the whole community.Children in Scotland, which has organised the conference under the title “Making space: architecture and design for young children”, says integrated schools are changing the way education is delivered. Bronwen Cohen, the organisation’s chief executive, said the approach and the fact that after-school clubs also meant children spending more time in school, were a vehicle for reform, and schools being built now had to reflect this.

“Opportunities to build new schools come along once in a life-time. Many of the school buildings our children are using today are over one hundred years old and the schools we build now will be used by generations of children to come,” she said. Children In Scotland was committed to reforming the way that education is delivered and the spaces children used had to reflect this reform. For example, she asked, were schools being built with more informal space for children to use at the beginning and end of the formal school day?

One of the speakers at today’s event will be Mark Dudek, an architect and writer specialising in early years environments. He is expected to raise concerns that architects’ work is too often compromised by the need to build cheaply and quickly. Karin Buvek, an architectural researcher at the Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research at the Norwegian Institute of Technology, will highlight how similar educational reforms in Norway are being reflected in the design of its school buildings.

The conference will be chaired by the journalist and broadcaster, Kirsty Wark, who said there had never been a better opportunity to create high quality spaces for children and the opportunity had to be grasped.