So Michael Gove has decided to wade further away from his limited pool of understanding and comment that in the future money shouldn’t be spent on creating superfluous space in schools that enrich the environment, but rather on a series of monotonous box cultures, presumably similar to those he attended in his formative years in the seventies (rightly known for the quality of its public architecture…). Rightfully so, both education specialists & architects have pointed out he’s talking a loud of bollocks. Still, not a man to back down, Gove has dismissed such comments because quite clearly, he’s a man who knows what he wants.
Now, I don’t work in schools – I’ve not even had a hand in designing any of the education (mainly university) projects that occasionally come through our doors, but I’ve got enough of an inkling of common sense to point out the following;
Dividable Spaces; Moving partitions, demountable walls – yes, they all cost money, but they add flexibility to the way that spaces can be used. It’s hardly rocket science to suggest that larger class sizes could be accommodated when needed, or classrooms turned over to secondary uses not teaching, but no, they’re now on the proscribed list.
Narrow Corridors; Congratulations, you’ve just increased the opportunity for bullying whilst making it more difficult for everyone to move around. You’ve also reduced the possibility of creating social interaction between people, because God knows, school isn’t supposed to be somewhere were children learn about how to be social creatures.
Colour; Nothing says “Know your place” like uniform cream walls (and I say that as a fan of beige…), even a splash of colour can be used to calm people or inspire them creatively. There’s something vaguely Orwellian about all of this, battery-teaching as it were.
High-tech materials; Want to reduce energy costs whilst maintaining light levels, you’re going to have to move away from simple holes in the walls to other solutions. Gove actually has a decent voting record when it comes to Climate Change, so this one is just bizarre in that context.
Given more time I could probably continue, but I actually need to work today – however, others have weighed in far more eloquently than me on the subject. Gove seems to have employed similar tactics that he did during the English exam debacle last year, i.e. pretending to be a turtle, but the truth is he’s already done the damage, many out there in middle England will be complaining that money is being wasted creating safe, inspiring places for the next generation rather than being spent on something more useful.