The ABC of BSF: school building design

CABEOver 130 delegates from local authorities, schools, and cultural organisations attended a fast-paced and informative day on looking at how arts and culture fits into school capital programmes (including Building Schools for the Future and Academies) and how cultural engagement can transform education.

Delegates were taken on two journeys: a virtual tour through the school rebuilding process and a physical journey to very different three buildings.Vamos Theatre launched the event with an unusual and engaging masked performance – literally pulling delegates into the event from around Millennium Point, measuring and adapting the building as well as the delegates! Later architects masks were removed to reveal a group of ten-year-olds who told us why being creative is so important to them. This took part at Millennium Point in Birmingham, a building that incorporates two popular visitor attractions, colleges and commercial office tenants. Here we explored 'co-location', in this case a cultural venue integrated with commercial and educational spaces, in this case Birmingham Metropolitan College fashion and graphic design departments.

'The ABC of BSF' moved on to The Public, an exciting creative community, cultural, and business space, based in West Bromwich, for a tour of this new building designed by Will Alsop. Delegates had the opportunity to see a variety of interesting themes around challenging and unusual use of space, the role of art as an educational tool, and how ICT and the arts can work together.

The day concluded at award-winning low-energy St. Luke's CE Primary School in Wolverhampton, the UK’s first BREEAM Excellent primary school. Delegates were welcomed to the school by pupils, headteacher Alison Grennan, architect Jonathan Hines and creative agent Jeremy Brown. The pupils led guided tours for delegates who were greatly impressed by their knowledge and enthusiasm. 

Delegates reported: "This makes me realise that culture should be the driver behind our [capital] programme - we need culture to inform. And be at the heart of our programme - with cultural champions in each school." "Excellent tour and examples how art and culture can make a big difference in education. Most planners do not understand the benefits of art and culture in regeneration programmes. We need greater awareness."