Leading paint manufacturer Crown Paints has secured a prestigious agreement with Bournemouth University which will see products from across the Crown Trade range used for future new build and refurbishment projects.

As the University’s sole supplier of paints and specialist coatings, Crown’s specification team have worked closely with the Bournemouth University’s facilities department to devise a bespoke paint package and colour scheme that will provide long term cost benefits and reduce ongoing maintenance requirements.

The chosen paint specification, which includes Crown Trade’s high performance Clean Extreme Stain Resistant Scrubbable Matt and Acrylic Eggshell, and water-based Fastflow Quick Dry Gloss, will now form part of the University’s official Design Standards Manual.


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The new partnership between Bournemouth University and Crown Paints has already got off to a flying start with the announcement of two major new build projects. The painting work is already underway on Poole Gateway Building, a new state of the art teaching facility located on the University’s Talbot campus, and is being undertaken by SPP Fine Finishes from Weymouth. Crown Trade’s paints will also be used on the new Bournemouth Gateway building, which will become the new home for the University’s Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, as well as a new student accommodation scheme that will be designed and built on the same campus. Here the painting contract has been awarded to Dectech from Southampton and will commence in the summer.

As well as building a positive working relationship with Bournemouth University, the new solus agreement has also enabled Crown Paints to develop stronger links with the local community. Most recently, the Crown Decorating Centre in Poole donated paint and sundries products to the Stable Family Home Trust in Ringwood, which provides living and day care support for young adults with learning disabilities. The supplies were used to decorate the Trust’s drama room.

Commenting, Rick White, maintenance services manager for Bournemouth University said: “This is a very exciting time for Bournemouth University and we have a number of projects both in the pipeline and nearing completion. We are pleased to have Crown Paints on board as a key supplier and are confident that the close working relationship that we have already developed will bring numerous benefits going forward.”

Joanne Thomas, specification sales manager for Crown Paints added: “We are delighted to have formalised our working relationship with Bournemouth University and for Crown Paints to have been chosen as its sole paint supplier. Going forward we will be providing valuable specification and colour scheming advice as well as technical support and product advice in line with specific performance and budgetary requirements.

This is an exciting time for University, with several exciting schemes underway and more in the pipeline, and we are looking forward to seeing the schemes come to fruition.”

For more information and to find your nearest stockist, please visit www.crowntrade.co.uk, email Info@crowntrade.co.uk or call 0330 024 0297. You can also follow @CrownTradePaint on Twitter, CrownTradePaint on Facebook or Crown Paints on LinkedIn.



For a while now, the government have been making their intentions known, encouraging offsite over onsite where possible when it comes to public sector projects. Why is offsite so crucial for the educational building sector? School Building Magazine Editor Joe Bradbury discusses:


The current state of affairs

There are 32,113 schools and 142 universities throughout Britain today. Whilst this might sound like a lot, consider the fact that overall pupil numbers are also expected to increase by 654,000 to around 8.1m by 2026. In secondary schools alone, the overall population is projected to reach around 3.3m in 2026, a 19.1% increase of around 534,000 more pupils.

Parents are already battling for placements in schools for their kids, with many having to compromise on where they ultimately send their child for education simply because there isn’t space in their local school.


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What’s more, alarming studies indicate that over 65% of these buildings are considered “not fit for purpose” by their head teachers and deans, who cite leaks, asbestos, faulty heating and damp as common problems.

Experts suggest that in order to keep up with this rapidly increasing demand for school placements, we needed to have been building 2,000 new schools each year between 2016 and 2020. This hasn’t been happening and with time pressing on, it’s clear to see we need a solution fast.

Speed of delivery

Fully kitted out and ultra-efficient offsite buildings can be completed in a matter of weeks, with minimal onsite disturbance. This is perfect in the school environment, due to the fact that work can be undertaken between term time, minimising disruption for pupils and teachers alike.

Traditionally, when the time comes to replace a school building, we have transformed the learning environment into a building site for months (sometimes even years) at a time, forcing teachers to educate from temporary, leaky and cold structures. This is unfair on the pupils attending the school during this period, it isn’t conducive to learning and is shown to adversely affect their attainment levels come exam time. Put simply, it creates a disadvantage for them.

Offsite construction, however, is far less energy intensive than traditional building methods, meaning it is better for the environment; surely a lesson worth teaching to the next generation!

The carbon footprint left by the many construction vehicles and machinery on the site of a traditional construction project alone is considerably larger than that of modular construction. The fewer vehicles involved coupled with the reduced time that they spend on site results in less greenhouse gases being released into our environment… as well as less disruption.

Arguably one of the greatest benefits of modular construction is the ability to design diverse buildings in a more efficient manner, allowing them to be used as multi-functional spaces. For example, it is perfectly possible to combine a new school with a community centre, library or any other public building for that matter. This means that offsite construction can actually help public sector organisations and local authorities enrich the lives of the people that make up their communities.

In summary

Modular construction can help us breathe new life into our country’s educational buildings throughout the country and create enthusing learning spaces for the influx of new students predicted to enter into education over the coming years. 

The success stories are prolific; the healthcare, policing, defence, housing and education sectors are all benefitting greatly from embracing offsite. 

Offsite construction ticks a multitude of boxes, offering a quick and cost-effective way to deliver the fit-for-purpose schools sorely needed throughout the UK. It isn’t just an option to be considered from a financial front, it must play a crucial role in tackling the school places challenge if we are to make any meaningful improvements in our society. It’s vitally important that the benefits of offsite are acknowledged and embraced by government and industry. It’s about more than money. Let’s do the right thing for our young people.


Around 90% of school buildings in England contain asbestos, often around pipes and boilers, and in wall and ceiling tiles. The Guardian recently reported that nearly 700 schools have been referred to the national health and safety body over concerns they are failing to safely manage asbestos in their buildings, potentially putting thousands of staff and pupils at risk. Joe Bradbury of School Building Magazine discusses:


In 2018, the government began an asbestos management assurance process in a bid to better understand the scale of the problem of asbestos in schools. Information released following a freedom of information request discovered that of the 2,952 schools bodies that responded in full to the survey, 2,570 (87%) have asbestos in at least one of their buildings.

In response to this, the Department for Education (DfE) has now referred 676 state-funded schools and academies in England to the HSE as they did not provide evidence “that they were managing asbestos in line with regulatory requirements”. The HSE now intend to carry out inspections of some of the schools affected.

The dangers of asbestos

All types of asbestos fibres are known to cause serious health hazards in humans and animals. Amosite and crocidolite are considered the most hazardous asbestos fibre types; however, chrysotile asbestos has also produced tumours in animals and is a recognized cause of asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma in humans, and mesothelioma has been observed in people who were occupationally exposed to chrysotile, family members of the occupationally exposed, and residents who lived close to asbestos factories and mines.

During the 1980s and again in the 1990s, it was suggested at times that the process of making asbestos cement could “neutralize” the asbestos, either via chemical processes or by causing cement to attach to the fibres and changing their physical size; subsequent studies showed that this was untrue, and that decades-old asbestos cement, when broken, releases asbestos fibres identical to those found in nature, with no detectable alteration.

Exposure to asbestos in the form of fibres is always considered dangerous. Working with, or exposure to, material that is friable, or materials or works that could cause release of loose asbestos fibres, is considered high risk. In general, people who become ill from inhaling asbestos have been regularly exposed in a job where they worked directly with the material. If Asbestos exposure occurs, individuals should speak with their GP or doctor as soon as possible.

The most common diseases associated with chronic exposure to asbestos are asbestosis and mesothelioma.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises that it is only a risk if it is disturbed or damaged, which releases fibres into the air.

However, both campaigners and unions are crying out for action, stating that asbestos in schools is often poorly managed and that staff are often entirely unaware of its location in the buildings in which they they work… so how is it being managed, exactly?

Even low levels of exposure to asbestos fibres can cause cancer decades later. Research has shown that exposure to asbestos is more dangerous the younger a person is, raising concerns over the future health of children.

HSE estimates that there are around 5,000 asbestos-related deaths per year throughout Britain, many of which occurring many years after initial exposure.

Alarming ONS figures reveal that over the last 18 years 300+ teachers and education professionals have died of mesothelioma, a cancer almost exclusively caused by asbestos. Another study from last year suggested that there were five times more deaths from mesothelioma in the teaching profession than outside of it.

This needs to change

Schools are much more than just buildings; they are the centres of communities, they are where children learn skills for the rest of their lives, and they are safe havens. That’s why it’s vital they are in the best possible condition.

Just 5% of the nearly 60,000 school buildings across the UK are performing as intended and operating efficiently. The prevalence of damp, leaky classrooms and asbestos-ridden buildings in British schools means too many pupils and teachers are struggling to learn and teach in conditions damaging to their health and education.

It’s time for a change. Our children deserve better.


We live and work in buildings; structures comprised of four walls, a roof and a floor. However, it is the technologies and products obscured within these walls that dictate whether a building is comfortable or not to be in for long periods of time. 


Given the fact that pupils spend 190 days per year at school, good acoustic performance in educational buildings is crucial for effective learning. The schools, colleges and universities throughout the UK are responsible for the creation and nurturing of future medical professionals, entrepreneurs, teachers and artists – it is vital that pupils are able to listen clearly to their teacher’s communications in order to foster the learning process.

It has been proven by many studies that poor acoustic performance within a classroom severely hinders learning and teaching. Let’s take a closer look at the subject of sound:

What is sound?

Okay, we all know what a sound is… but it is important that we understand how it works when discussing acoustic insulation. Sound is a form of energy created when air is disturbed in some way causing changes in air pressure that radiate from the source of the sound in waves. Sound can be airborne; typically that of a human voice.

Sound waves vibrate at different rates or frequencies as they move through the air and are measured in cycles per second or Hertz; the faster a sound wave passes a given point, the shorter the wavelength and in turn the higher the frequency. Vibrations in the air caused by the sound determine how loud it is; the stronger the vibrations the greater the ‘amplitude’. The length or duration of a sound i.e. it’s reverberation time or echo, is determined by the extent to which the energy is expended on contact with surfaces within a room.

How is sound measured?

Sound is measured in decibels using logarithmic scales; the human ear is incredibly sensitive and the scale needs to reflect this. The table below shows the increase in sound intensity in relation to decibel levels.

How are we affected by sound and levels of noise?

The human ear can hear sounds across the frequency range 20 to 20,000Hz; however it is most sensitive in the range 100 to 5000 Hz. There is a great deal of variation in the hearing abilities of individuals and the awareness of sounds can depend not only on physical but also psychological factors. Noise can be described as unwanted sound; however the level at which noise is tolerable is subjective – a specific noise that one person finds upsetting may go unnoticed by another.

Background noise

Background noise in buildings normally arises from sources like external traffic or equipment within the building. Machines like air conditioning units or fans can operate at moderate levels that make noise that is unobtrusive and is only noticed when turned off. This sort of noise is often unnoticed as it is steady and conveys little information about events around it. As an unintended consequence of normal activities, background noise can be beneficial in masking more sounds from an adjacent room without being loud enough to be noticed in their own right.

How does noise affect educational environments?

The three main sources of noise which affect classrooms are airborne sound sources, implact sound sources and general reverberation noise. Reverberation is a common problem and has a potentially significant impact on the classroom environment. Challenges such as background noise and group work where discussions and debates are encouraged mean that if a classroom isn’t properly soundproofed, noise levels will crescendo to uncomfortable levels and as a result will hinder any learning ability.

It is important to realise that there are a variety of educational methods and styles presented in the modern day classroom, each with their own noise issues. The more traditional teacher/lecture based classroom is where a teacher is located at the front of a classroom and leads any communication or discussion. This teaching function potentially suffers greatly from reverberation noise levels as pupils who sit toward the back of the classroom will suffer from reflected noise levels, where the teacher’s voice is at the weakest point due to reflected sound waves.


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A more modern approach to teaching focuses on a more interactive based learning where students are encouraged to work in pairs or groups to facilitate learning processes. This means within a classroom, reverberation and ambient noise levels will increase dramatically, and if a room is untreated the noise levels will hamper concentration levels and learning ability.

Airborne sound sources affect educational environments where sound travels from different rooms within a building, particularly through separating walls or floors. This is particularly relevant where a classroom is situated next to a music room or a library, which is next to a busy corridor. Airborne noise levels are determined by the use of the area, as some areas will generate more noise than others meaning these will need to be looked at in more detail.

Impact sound sources are sudden noises that come through a floor construction like footsteps. It is imperative that impact noise is taken into account to ensure pupils movements in the classroom above are not heard below.

UK Building Regulations and the guidance in Building Bulletin 93, stipulate that these noises are controlled and that every room or space within an education building is designed in such a way as to achieve a certain level of acoustic performance.

Sound insulation in buildings

The movement of sound around a building is a complex process that can be affected by a whole host of factors both within and around a site. There are also various ways of measuring and expressing levels and performance.

Problems can occur with the level of acoustic control in a building and this may be because:

  • The building design does not lend itself to acoustic control
  • The specification of individual components is incorrect
  • The interaction between individual elements is not given full consideration
  • One of the parties or suppliers involved has used inappropriate information to gain a commercial advantage

In summary

The classrooms in which children are taught have more demands upon them than ever before. They are places to learn, to play and to be inspired. But if the students cannot hear their teacher, or are distracted and stressed by unwanted noise, then their learning experience will suffer. It doesn’t need to be that way.

A number of regulations and guidance apply to acoustic standards, and projects to refurbish classrooms and teaching spaces that provide for children with special educational needs should take these into account. Within the UK the acoustic standards are set by Building Bulletin 93 (BB93) and similar standards are in development in the Republic of Ireland.

Improving classroom acoustics need not be challenging or expensive. If you are currently working on an educational project, place yourself in the position of a pupil sitting within the classroom you are building for a moment in your mind… can you concentrate?


Student accommodation is big business. James Pullan, global head of student property at Knight Frank, has predicted that there will be over 29,000 additional purpose built student beds delivered next year; to put that into context, that’s similar to the overall population of Gibraltar. If he’s right, this will be a significant contribution to the UK’s housing shortage, helping to ease the pressure on existing housing stock. How do we make sure what we deliver is right for the student? School Building Editor Joe Bradbury investigates:

There is an overwhelming need for more purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) in Britain. In 2018-19 the number of full-time students outweighed PBSA bed spaces by 3:1. University is becoming accessible for all and subsequently demand for student accommodation has never been higher. UK universities are critically acclaimed worldwide, continuing to attract domestic and international student’s year on year, bringing with them enormous potential for developers.

A recent report written by property experts Octopus Real Estate (an active lender in the PBSA market) entitled ‘The student accommodation impact report’ recently suggested that student accommodation will be worth over £50 billion to the UK economy this year… and why not?  The sector is well-researched on the investor and developer front, with a large body of analysis from think tanks, agents and law firms. However, it seems that real changes are being driven by the attitudes of the end customer – the students themselves. These are the people who care most about the design of their living space.

Studies reveal that demand is high and funding is available. Both of these facts are enough to get any budding developer excited, but in order to make sure they get this right it is crucial to understand what students need from PBSA.

The Octopus report, which focuses on student needs, stems from research commissioned through a survey of over 1,000 students aged 18 to 25. Participants currently attend, or have completed, an undergraduate degree at a British university.

The report cannot seem to stress enough the sheer importance of decent accommodation to students, which is proven to greatly influence academic results and the entire university experience itself. In turn, it highlights the opportunity for developers who can meet students’ requirements.

Here are the findings:

  • Better accommodation makes for higher grades

Many students are aware of the importance of high-quality accommodation in creating the right environment for studying and achieving their goals. Those who lived in PBSA are more likely to report top grades. Similarly, many post-graduates feel that they should have chosen different accommodation for higher results. 

  • PBSA is best for student wellbeing

There’s a link between quality of accommodation and university experience, and students know it. From their first to third year, students are more likely to be satisfied with their wellbeing, if they’re living in PBSA, in comparison to halls of residence. 

  • Students prioritise technology

Technology is a must, especially as our research shows it’s directly related to results. Those who achieve top grades are more likely to have prioritised technology when choosing their accommodation. International students place great importance on it, while all rate technology in PBSA highly.

  • UK vs. international students: different priorities

With international students a key segment, their choices can’t be ignored. From the outset, international students are more likely than British students to focus on accommodation when choosing a university, considering how it can affect their results. This continues to apply in each year of study. 

  • Students will pay more for extra facilities

Crucially for developers, extra facilities are highly desirable to many students. These range from a private bathroom, to their own cooking facilities, to access to a gym or swimming pool. Students are willing to pay more for these, indicating ongoing demand for better PBSA.

It’s clear that UK-based students recognise the role of PBSA in how much they enjoy university and how well they do in their degree. As a result they have very specific requirements when it comes to choosing where they live.

Students want space and privacy to study, a technology-enabled environment, and facilities that enhance their independence and wellbeing. Developers who can meet these requirements will be well placed to capitalise on student demand.

To find out more, we spoke to undergraduate student Grace Dalaigh, who is studying philosophy at the University of Nottingham:

  1. Q) Grace, how do you think the condition of student accommodation can affect the overall university experience?
  2. A) I think that the condition of university accommodation is an obvious step down from the snug, home life that most of us are provided with. In a sense, it makes you value your own space as something to respect and look after though. It teaches you to make the best of what you have. I don’t like how every room is the same in most accommodations- it feels so clinical and inexpressive; so if you’re a creative soul, you need to find other avenues to explore!
  3. Q) What are you ideally looking for when it comes to student accommodation?
  4. A) As a student, I wanted the full experience. So I wanted a good social space to chat to friends while cooking dinner etc. Personally, I wasn’t bothered about an en-suite bathroom but good views from the window is always nice… as a student it’s easy to forget the little things which you need to keep yourself calm and nature is that for me.
  5. Q) Any words of advice for developers of purpose-built student accommodation on how they can improve the service they offer?
  6. A) As I said before, nature is vital. Having a green space would be perfect outside the place as a space to play football or throw a ball around. That was so important to me. Also I would say, plenty of Power Points and some good amount of storage! Students often have a mix of work and hobbies so plenty of space for electronics is vital and spaces to put your books as well as other hobby supplies is as well!

In summary

It’s clear to see that student accommodation impacts greatly on undergraduate performance. The Octopus report indicates a clear correlation between academic achievement and the place where students live, with PBSA tending to make for higher results. There is also a positive link between PBSA and overall student wellbeing, with UK and international students valuing PBSA as an accommodation option throughout university.

The demand for accommodation, coupled with its make-or-break nature on the student experience, spells fantastic opportunity for construction professionals who specialise within this niche area of our industry. Whilst political outcomes could affect the numbers of international students in the UK, PBSA continues to be popular and can improve the overall student experience – a win-win for developers!

…and if you are a developer of PBSA looking for inspiration, do yourself a favour and ask a student.


While the number of school fires has decreased over recent years, they remain a major risk for schools. Joe Bradbury of School Building Magazine and industry experts Fire Safety Services take a look at what school building operators can do to minimise risk.


A large school fire devastates; its aftermath lingers for years. There are about 700 school fires a year in England. Approximately 90,000 pupils a year have their learning disrupted due to fire damage to classrooms and school property. The long term disruption that follows puts staff and pupils under stress and imposes large financial, educational and administrative costs. It is a price that no school can afford to pay. However, while no school is immune from the risk of fire, the chances of it happening can be reduced or, if the worst does occur, losses to be kept to a minimum.

Fit sprinklers

School fires in London alone have increased by 34% in just one year, new London Fire Brigade figures show. The Brigade has been campaigning for a number of years to make sprinklers mandatory in new schools and during major refurbishments. Sprinklers are especially important during the summer holidays when buildings are empty and fires can smoulder undetected, causing extensive and expensive damage.

There were a total of 90 fires in preschools, nurseries, primary schools and secondary schools in 2017, up from 67 in 2016. The Brigade’s Fire Facts report, also released this week, shows that fires at educational buildings, including colleges and universities, have also increased from 20 to 28 in the same period.

Moreover, last year 184 London schools ignored the Brigade’s advice to have sprinklers fitted as part of their refurbishment or building plans, despite that being the most cost effective time to fit water suppression systems…

This is happening up and down the country.  Less than a third of the 260 schools built since 2014 under the Schools Building Programme have sprinklers.

Sprinklers are mandatory in new school buildings in Scotland and Wales, but not in England. Government guidance on safe school design says all new premises should be fitted with sprinklers “except in a few low-risk schools”.

There were no fatalities from school fires in the eight years up to 2017/18, but there were 244 casualties, according to official figures.

The National Fire Chiefs Council said the proportion of new schools built with sprinklers had dropped from about 70% a decade ago to a third last year – and overall, in England and Wales, just 5% of schools have sprinklers.

Watch out for arson

Each year around 1 in 20 schools experiences a fire and nearly 60% of school fires are started deliberately. The short-term effects of loss of facilities and equipment can be calculated, but the longer-term effects of loss of coursework, disruption of classes and lowering of morale are much harder to quantify. However, it is clear that a major fire is likely to disrupt a child’s education for many months and could mean postponing tests and exams.

Most are probably not meant to get out of control and started as a dare or just a laugh. Some however are malicious and planned.

Nationally one in eight schools suffered an arson attack last year – costing about £65m a third of these were in London.

So how can we stop it happening? In reality – you can’t. But you can lower the risk of it happening by following simple rules.

  • deter unauthorised entry onto the site
  • prevent unauthorised entry into the buildings
  • reduce the opportunity for an offender to start a fire
  • reduce the scope for potential fire damage
  • reduce subsequent losses and disruption resulting from a fire

By being vigilant and aware of what a potential arsonist could burn and how accessible it is could greatly reduce the risk.

Store combustible items safely

A common non-compliance found is that of storage of combustible items. The very nature of schools attracts large amounts of paper, cardboard etc with limited storage. It is sometimes the case that cupboards housing electrical equipment (fuseboards, servers) are requisitioned for storage which is a potentially dangerous mix of fuel and ignition in an enclosed area. The simple fire safety advice is to keep fuel sources and ignition/heat sources apart.

Another area that gets overlooked is the storage of gym mats. Again space is a premium and it is common to find mats stored vertically as opposed to horizontally. Also many areas are not suitable as gym mat stores.

Gymnastic mats should be stored in a purpose-built store having a fire resistance of 60 minutes to British Standard 476: Parts 21 to 22, and where possible be ventilated to open air.

The reason for the stringent fire protection measures is that the mats produce toxic dense smoke when ignited. This will spread to other mats quickly if stored vertically. If the smoke breaches the enclosure there is a high risk of the escape routes becoming unusable due to lack of vision along with the dense black smoke which is a danger to life.

In summary

These are just a few examples of everyday issues found on Fire Safety Inspections in schools; however, many more factors need to be considered. For example a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) evacuation plans – can individuals with special needs, be accommodated within the general evacuation procedure?

For answers to this question and many more you need to speak to a quality third party accredited fire protection company (such as Fire Safety Services) to take care of your fire risk assessment along with any other fire safety & equipment requirements. It could save lives.

School Building Magazine editor Joe Bradbury discusses his visit to Dudley College, where students are learning the true value of offsite.


The construction industry is changing and needs a workforce that is trained in new and innovative construction methods to meet the industry’s future needs.

Having recognised the challenges facing the sector, Dudley College of Technology (with a significant contribution by the Local Growth Fund) has invested over £12m in Dudley Advance II, a Centre for Advanced Building Technologies.

After hearing this, I paid Black Country based offsite company Totally Modular a visit for a tour around their factory. Whilst in the area, Sales Manager Brian Maunder very kindly took me to Dudley College, where fascinating things are happening in terms of educating the next generation of budding construction professionals.

Brian recently donated one of his modular homes to the college, which is currently under construction within the actual walls of the campus.

About Dudley Advance II

Advance II provides skills development in high level Building Services Engineering, Civil Engineering, Construction Design and Building Information Modelling. It is the first of its kind in the FE sector offering students training in the latest construction techniques.

Supported by the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Local Growth Fund through Midlands Engine, we are working in partnership with leading employers across the region, who are embracing new technologies – ensuring that your training gives you the skills that they are looking for from their future workforce.

With a focus on Higher level Apprenticeships, Level 3+ qualifications and progression to degree level courses the centre is supporting the modernisation of skills development across the construction industry.

Who is it for?

The new Centre for Advanced Building Technologies is for bright, ambitious individuals who want to learn new and exciting processes so they can be part of the changing face of construction.

They are also eager to work with businesses who can play a part in the development of skills and by joining forces, the college and construction companies can secure a better future. By contributing towards and influencing the college’s curriculum training will better meet the needs of your business. Download our Advance II booklet for more information.

Dudley Advance II provides:

  • Apprenticeships at advanced and higher levels in a range of new and traditional trades
  • Full-time courses that appeal to talented students progressing from school or from lower level qualifications
  • Professional and technical upskilling through a range of shorter programmes aimed at upskilling the existing workforce in developing techniques such as BIM.

The college aim to provide their students with the tools they need set themselves up with a career for life. The Construction department offers courses in areas such as bricklaying, carpentry and joinery, heating and ventilation, engineering, mechanical services, plastering, plumbing and refrigeration and air-conditioning engineering.

On top of this, Dudley College of Technology also recently announced that it has been awarded the Centre Manager contract for the Waltham Forest Council-led Construction Training Centre in Leyton, East London.  Working in partnership with Simian Risk, the Uk’s leading scaffolding training provider, the college will take over the day-to-day running of the centre, which was previously run by CITB as part of its raft of raining centres across the country. The new centre to be known as Advance – Technical Engineering and Construction Training Centre, will offer full-cost, full-funded and Apprenticeship training to residents and businesses across the southern regions.

Dudley College will develop a broad construction training offer which will both meet the demands of traditional trades, while also providing the high-quality training required to meet the needs of an evolving industry, which excitingly includes training courses on Virtual Reality, digital technology and modern methods of construction.

The centre’s proposed programme of activity aligns to the London Mayor’s Construction Academy (MCA) Scheme, which aims to close the gap between the ambitious targets for new build housing and the need for more skilled construction workers across the capital to bring this about.

Commenting on the development, Neil Thomas College Principal of Dudley College of Technology said “We are delighted to be given the opportunity to bring the expertise we have developed in the West Midlands in our Construction Apprenticeship Training Centre and our new centres for manufacturing and advanced building technologies to this area. We are confident we can build on the existing provision and do even more to address the huge skills needs of the sector in this locality.”

We will push for a programme of training that is 100 per cent linked to employment and job progression opportunities; and tackles current skills shortages in the borough and across London, while providing insight and qualifications on the latest methods of delivery.”

Dudley College of Technology are one of twenty outstanding further education colleges in the UK and are considered a national leader of training in modern methods of construction delivery.  And they are one of twelve institutions nationwide to be selected by the Department of Education to develop a one of their flagship Institutes of Technology.

Industry analysts suggest that over a third (35%) of school buildings in England aren’t fit for purpose. However, with schools across England set to benefit from investment of over £1.4billion in buildings and facilities over the coming financial year, is this about to change? School Building Magazine Editor Joe Bradbury discusses:


School leaders have long been crying out for improvements and repairs to be made on their current buildings. Extra classrooms are required to meet bustling demand. 43% of school leaders in the south west and 41% in the south east saying their buildings are not fit for purpose at all.

A shocking report into the state of school buildings (entitled ‘Better Spaces for Learning’), industry experts RIBA highlighted the urgent need for school refurbishment throughout the country.

  • 1 in 5 teachers have considered quitting because of the wretched condition of the school buildings they have to teach in
  • The Government’s Education Funding Agency’s new school building programme is too rigid and is leading to waste and poor value for tax payers
  • Over 90% of teachers believe well-built and designed schools improve educational outcomes and pupil behaviour
  • Over-engineered schools, with Government-specified equipment that only costly consultants know how to operate, is costing £150 million per year which could have been avoided if schools were designed better.

These findings are taken directly from the report on the state of school buildings in the UK, published by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Using the largest ever analysis of primary and secondary school buildings in the UK, a nation-wide poll of teachers, and extensive engagement with school buildings experts, RIBA’s Better Spaces for Learning report makes the case for an urgent review of the Government’s Education Funding Agency’s current school building programme.

Needless to say, the announcement that £1.4 billion will be invested to maintain and improve school buildings around the country comes as welcome news to the school building sector. And this includes over £430 million from the Condition Improvement Fund, covering more than 1,400 projects.

The money also includes almost £800million for local authorities and larger multi-academy trusts to invest in improving and maintaining their schools.

The funding is part of over £7.4 billion capital funding allocated since 2015. In addition, the priority school building programme is rebuilding or refurbishing facilities at over 500 schools across England.

This investment comes after stats last week showed the government is on track to deliver 1 million new school places by 2020 – with 921,000 created since 2010.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said “Schools are much more than just buildings; they are the centres of communities, they are where children learn skills for the rest of their lives, and they are safe havens. That’s why it’s vital they are in the best possible condition. So as well as providing the resources for all schools to maintain and renew their facilities, this funding will target those schools with some of the most urgent need – making sure children don’t have to spend time in buildings that aren’t fit for purpose.”

For the financial year 2019–20, the £1.4 billion of funding includes approximately:

  • Almost £800 million for local authorities, voluntary aided partnerships, larger multi-academy trusts and academy sponsors, to invest in maintaining and improving the condition of their schools;
  • £433 million for the Condition Improvement Fund, which will cover 1,413 projects at 1,210 small and stand-alone academy trusts and sixth-form colleges;
  • Over £200 million of Devolved Formula Capital allocated for schools to spend on small capital projects to meet their own priorities.

Since 2015, the Condition Improvement Fund has allocated nearly £2bn for over 6,000 projects at more than 3,000 schools all over the country.

This year’s funding will go to projects that tackle building condition and health and safety compliance, such as replacing roofs, windows and fire alarm systems, to ensure that schools are kept safe and open.

On top of this the Department is announcing that over £8 million in interest-free loan funding will be split between 167 academies to pay for energy efficiency projects including heating controls lighting upgrades and insulation.

Retrofitting sustainability into our schools

A good school design can reduce running and maintenance costs, in some cases by more than several times a teacher’s average salary a year. If it was commonplace, perhaps it could prevent the English school estate from spending upwards of £150m annually on unnecessary operation and maintenance costs.

Just 5% of the nearly 60,000 school buildings across the UK are performing as intended and operating efficiently. The prevalence of damp, leaky classrooms and asbestos-ridden buildings in British schools means too many pupils and teachers are struggling to learn and teach in conditions damaging to their health and education.

Earlier this year the Department launched a new web-based tool to help schools switch to cheaper energy suppliers.

Figures from 2016/17 show state-funded schools in England spent more than £584 million on gas and electricity and the average secondary school spends around £90,000 a year on energy. If implemented properly, the funding could help the schools that receive it save around £1.8million a year, driving down the carbon footprint of the school estate and saving money in the process.

The money comes from the Salix Energy Efficiency Fund which is provided by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and administered by Salix Finance Ltd.

In summary

This country is in the grip of the worst shortage of school places in living memory. This report highlights the vital importance of school design and how it affects the general health and wellbeing of their users, our children and their teachers. As limited funding is available to deal with the growing problem, every penny spent on schools must deliver maximum value for money. 

How can we expect our children to compete with the world’s best when too many of our school buildings are substandard? Educational improvements resulting from the current programme of school building are not reaching the basic standards that British taxpayers and our economy expects. We need to do better for all of our children and their hardworking teachers. 

New guidance sets out how councils can seek funding from housing development in their area and use it to create school places. School Building Editor Joe Bradbury investigates:


According to recent government announcements, the guidance will support local authorities to negotiate what funding and land is required from housing developers for new schools and school expansions.

Developers already contribute to the cost of new infrastructure, including schools, but council requirements vary around the country. Today’s guidance will support local authorities to secure vital funding where development puts pressure on school places.

The guidance sets out that where developments mean new schools are necessary local authorities can seek both funding for construction and for suitable land to be set aside.

Alternatively, developers may build schools themselves rather than contributing money to councils. New schools should be built at the right time, so that places are available for the children who need them, when they need them.

Schools Minister Lord Agnew, said “It isn’t enough for developers simply to build houses; we need to build communities. Schools are at the centre of any community and that’s why it’s vital that developers contribute to the cost of the school places they create.

“This Government is already undertaking a huge expansion in school places, with one million new places on track to be created this decade. But schools can still find themselves under pressure from new housing developments, and where they do it’s right that where appropriate developers support these costs.

“The guidance ensures that local authorities can establish their needs for school places so that the right contributions from developers are secured as part of the planning process. In some instances, public funding may be used but only to the minimum extent necessary.”

New Schools Network Director Luke Tryl added We welcome the clarity this guidance provides local authorities on how developers can help contribute to the provision of new schools. We hope it will minimise the amount of time schools planned as part of housing developments spend in the pre-opening phase, while land acquisition and access are negotiated.

Educational Building and Development Officers Group (EBDOG) Chair Graham Olway concluded “We are delighted to have worked with DfE on this guidance, which will be instrumental in explaining to planners and developers what sites and contributions we need for schools, and how they should be provided. Negotiating developer contributions is often a very complicated, drawn out process, but having government guidance on the subject should make the negotiations more straightforward.

“This guidance on establishing the contributions required for schools is published following updated Planning Practice Guidance, which ensures that funding for schools is properly considered when housing developments are planned.”

In summary

This guidance couldn’t have come at a more apt time. Council leaders are warning that parents across England alone could face a chronic shortage of secondary school places over the next 5 years, a problem that stands to affect over 100,000 children.

The Local Government Association recently pleaded with government to avert disaster by 2023 following government released figures which indicate that over a quarter of maintained secondary schools in England were in deficit last year.

The LGA stated that its members were unable to supply more places because the majority of secondary schools are now academies and outside their control, whilsy government restrictions make it very hard for councils to build new schools where needed.

We are currently in the grips of a housing crisis, with three million new social homes needing be built in England over the next 20 years if we are to ever free ourselves from it. The government plan to build 250,000 homes by 2022, including homes for social rent.

This guidance, if implemented properly, stands to kill two birds with one stone. Will it work? Watch this space.

England is short of four million homes. There are at least 320,000 homeless people throughout Britain and over a million on housing waiting lists. Needless to say, the housebuilding industry needs to change. The only way this can happen is if we look in on ourselves and our own behaviour and acknowledge our shortcomings; something that is hard to do. MMC Editor Joe Bradbury investigates.

The bad news is that the UK construction industry is currently responsible for 45% of total UK carbon emissions, 32% of all landfill waste and is responsible for more water pollution incidents than any other industry. The good news is that we have the knowledge, skills and technology to facilitate real change in the world, when we put our minds to it. Implementing offsite construction into the housebuilding sector could be the catalyst.

Waste not, want not

One of the key factors that will either seal our reputation as innovators or sully it indefinitely is the materials we use and how we choose to use them. With an unprecedented shortage of housing in this country, it is clear to see that despite what construction industry doomsayers print, the UK has a voracious appetite for housing that isn’t going away any time soon.

The construction industry is the largest consumer of natural resources in the UK today; a stark point that highlights just how high up on the agenda reconsideration of our building practices should be. The impact of our materials usage on the environment in of itself is staggering; a recent report by Willmott Dixon Group suggested that the construction industry alone is accountable for around 45-50% of global energy usage, nearly 50% of worldwide water usage, and around 60% of the total usage of raw materials.

The benefits of adopting more considerate ways to use materials are far-reaching. Take FSC-approved timber as just one of many examples; manufacturers who use forest products that are FSC approved can do so with confidence, safe in the knowledge that they are helping to ensure our forests are alive and well for generations to come. But the benefits are also far more immediate and closer to home than that; wood is a natural, renewable material, used often in modular building. It offsets our carbon footprint and offers significant thermal efficiency, keeping energy bills low. For the four million people in Britain living in fuel poverty today, building more energy efficient homes using modern methods of construction is urgent. Interestingly, if housing targets were met through timber-frame construction alone, new build homes in the UK would serve as carbon ‘banks’, capturing and storing nearly 4 million tonnes of CO2 every year.

Better for the environment

According to ‘The Waste and Resources Action Programme’, offsite construction can generate up to 90% less waste than traditional onsite building methods. This is largely because a factory is a much more controlled environment than a traditional building site – with far fewer variables

Modular construction offers a greater degree of reusability; buildings can often be disassembled and moved to another site entirely if necessary. They can be shifted and repurposed when required. However, should a modular building find itself no longer fit for requirement as it stands, many of its components can be salvaged and re-used in another project, reducing the need for fresh new materials in each new build. This reduction in materials usage protects depleting stock of resources whilst simultaneously lowering waste.

Offsite construction is far less energy intensive than traditional housebuilding methods. The carbon footprint left by the many construction vehicles and machinery on the site of a traditional construction project alone is considerably larger than that of modular construction. Put simply, fewer vehicles involved and less time spent on site results in less greenhouse gases being released into our environment.

And due to being built away from the construction site, modern methods of construction such as offsite and modular are a great way to reduce and control noise levels, causing less disruption to the environment and the people around it.

To summarise

The positive effects of modular construction on the housebuilding industry cannot be overstated, and with the UK Environment Agency and other government bodies putting increasing pressure on construction companies to reduce pollution and conform to environmental regulations, it is clear to see that change is imminent – embrace the future, build homes offsite.