Teachers strike over Islington BSF revamp
A £17m revamp of a secondary school in Islington, currently being built by Balfour Beatty under Building Schools for the Future, has prompted teachers to walk out on strike.
Buildig Design, the architects' newspaper, reports that teachers at St Aloysius’ College in Islington, north London, claim that a litany of design flaws will endangerthe quality of education being received by pupils at the top-performing boys’ school.
Around 40 staff walked out last week with a second strike planned. More strikes, sanctioned by the National Union of Teachers (NUT), are likely.
Dennis Doherty, head of the school’s art and design department and an NUT rep at the school, described the BSF experience as “a nightmare”.
Alleged problems at the new school, which is due to open in November, include design and technology rooms too small to hold essential equipment, lacking adequate ventilation, and having an L-shape that makes supervising classes difficult.
Other concerns were that science labs did not include lockable cupboards for dangerous chemicals, changing rooms in the new PE block were too small and the new library was half the size of the previous facility.
Doherty is also horrified that recently refurbished science rooms, upgraded at a reported cost of £300 000, were pulled down during the project. “Tables that were practically brand new have also been skipped, along with chairs, cupboards, science equipment,” he said.
But a spokesman for Islington Council defended the scheme by architect BDP. “There are a small number of snags and work is continuing to resolve these,” he said.
Neither BDP, the Department for Education or Partnerships for Schools would comment.
With the government axe hanging over BSF, the strikes come at a difficult time for the the £55bn programme. But in recent weeks, Building Design and Building report, the number of contracts reaching preferred bidder status has accelerated in an effort to escape looming cuts.
The latest is in Oldham where contractor Balfour Beatty is working with architects Aedas and Taylor Young to deliver the city’s £175m BSF programme.
Other recent appointments include Derby, where Balfour Beatty chalked up another preferred bidder status in a £231m deal with architects Nicholas Hare and Hawkins Brown, and Barking and Dagenham, where Laing O'Rourke was appointed preferred bidder for a £270m BSF deal.