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Wates predicts greater community role for school buildings

7 Jul 15 Schools are set to be more integrated with local community services according to new research published by Wates Group.

‘The Class of 2050; a vision of the future for UK schools’ identified strong views that schools will, across the board, provide a much wider set of services to the local community by 2050. This could even lead to schools taking on the role in the community that the faith centres traditionally held in our society 50 years' ago, says the research.

The paper gathers views from leaders in education, senior teaching staff, HR professionals and public servants and creates a vision of: what a school in 2050 will be for; teaching and learning; the role of technology; how schools engage with business; and the role of schools in the community.

Stephen Beechey, group strategy director and MD for government affairs said: “Our latest research document The Class of 2050, has given us some vital insight into the direction that schools are going to need to head in order to keep up with our global society; and effectively gives us as contractors, a specification to respond to.

“A forward-thinking curriculum and the facilities required to up-skill our nation on par with the rest of the world need to be given serious consideration; we have a duty to ensure that any capital investment in schools creates the optimum environment for teaching and learning.  This report gives us the ability to highlight a series of recommendations to the Government based on evidence gathered to ensure publicly owned assets work harder and deliver all-year round services for their communities.”

Survey statistics echoed this view with over half of all respondents agreeing that developing work skills should be a fundamental part of a child's education; as a further 28% thought it should be considered and incorporated into the school day.

The debate on academic versus vocational education also came to the fore. All contributors agreed that both needed to be valued equally, but recognised there was more to be done to establish a “parity of esteem” amongst young people who have chosen a vocational route into the world of work.

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Greater flexibility was also highlighted as key in the Class of 2050, allowing teachers to adapt space dependent on the whether lecture style or small tutorial style groups are more conducive to learning that particular subject.

There was some agreement that the Cloud could replace vast rows of books housed in libraries, freeing up physical space.

Given the broad agreement that a school in 2050 needs to develop stronger work skills among pupils, there is increasing potential for business to part-fund schools, or, sponsor elements of them as is already fairly commonplace in the higher education sector.

The school is well positioned to become the new “heart of the community”, providing a hub of shared facilities to cater for the needs of the community – from social services and support through to healthcare and faith centres, found the paper. The creation of a real community 'hub' would help considerably with the challenges associated with public funding for facilities.

The full report and accompanying video can be found at  www.wates.co.uk/classof2050 (link opens in new tab).

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