Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building

Opinion

A schools delivery knowledge gap is looming – it’s time to act

2 September 2020 | By Peter Whitmore

Greater knowledge-sharing would boost the delivery of SEND schools, says Peter Whitmore

Some 15% of the pupil population – around 1.3 million school-age students in England – is classed as having a special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) requirement, and the number is forecast to rise. In 2019, the government announced an additional investment of £700m into special needs education to ensure that children and young people are provided with the buildings and facilities that are right for them. 

However, despite the improved investment, councils continue to face immense pressures in providing care and support and educational provision for children and young people with special needs and disabilities.

The Building Better Futures report by Morgan Sindall Construction has set out a new roadmap for the procurement, design and delivery of SEND schools. 

We wanted to explore what makes a great SEND school, so we brought together experts, partners, clients, collaborators, and influencers from the public and private sectors to look at the factors that make up a truly outstanding SEND school and examine how the delivery pathway could be enhanced. 

As a main contractor which has recently delivered six SEND schools in the east of England alone, this is a topic we are passionate about. 

A key research finding is the presence of a looming knowledge gap within the sector around the delivery of SEND schools, with no platforms available for head teachers or those commissioning schools to collaborate or share their learnings and experience. 

The report calls for the formation of a collaborative knowledge-sharing platform, where headteachers and organisations looking to commission new school buildings can share their experiences – creating an effective method of benchmarking, where examples of innovation and best practice can be explored and communicated
within the SEND community. 

Our objective for this research is to start fruitful conversations which enable the sector to work collaboratively to enhance the pathway for SEND school design and delivery so that it improves the lives of the young people, teachers, carers and families.

Peter Whitmore is managing director construction east at Morgan Sindall

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