We’ve known for some time that there was a looming crisis when it comes to providing enough classroom space to meet demand. According to research published by Scape Group, that crisis point has arrived. The research highlights the need for 12,835 additional classrooms by the 2021/22 academic year. That’s the equivalent of 640 new schools.
Meeting this colossal challenge needs a highly coordinated response to ensure that development is focused on the highest priority areas – mainly inner cities and densely populated urban areas. There’s also an argument in favour of extending existing school sites to speed up the planning process and allow the new capacity to be absorbed within existing management and governance structures.
Can it be Done Without Offsite?
Once the priorities and the sites have been identified there’s still the significant (and urgent) issue of how this additional classroom space will be created. Given the tight timescales and likely budgetary constraints this isn’t going to happen unless offsite construction is the predominant method of choice.
That’s not just Innovaré – an offsite construction business – talking, it’s also the view of Scape Group. The report highlights the substantially shorter build times and potential cost savings through greater standardisation that offsite solutions bring.
Better and Faster
We would go further and add the following benefits that come from the panelised offsite fabric-first approach: greater confidence over build quality and building performance, lower maintenance and running costs, design flexibility to create exceptional learning environments.
If school building is going to be predominantly on existing sites, we’d also add the suitability of the technology for working in live environments. Fewer onsite operations, more easily coordinated deliveries, less noise, dust and disruption and fewer safety hazards all add to the case for offsite solutions.
Working to these timescales will also call for a tightly controlled process, such as Innovaré’s integrated approach which offers a single point of contact for design, engineering, production, delivery and installation by our in-house teams.
The question shouldn’t be whether or not panelised offsite systems should be part of the solution, it should be how do we make sure that it becomes the predominant method of choice, and quickly?