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BSF Thread, Northgate questions in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; A few other things that people can ask at these sorts of meetings are examples of minutia that can give ...
  1. #16

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    Re: Northgate questions

    A few other things that people can ask at these sorts of meetings are examples of minutia that can give key indicators about how well the company will perform.

    I don't think I would be giving away secrets to give examples of these sort of things ...

    Ask for examples of end to end processes so that you can examine how the performance of the company affects the variety of stakeholders. A starting example would be adding a single new workstation in a classroom. This may seem like a simple request but get a full breakdown, some of which would be below ...
    Source the appropriate hardware (who decides what is appropriate? The Service Provider, the school leadership, the technical staff, the teacher, the LA? Is it based on performance, cost, specific user needs - ie teacher / learner - or based on what is offered in a catalogue?)
    Timescales from decision of hardware to the hardware arriving on site.
    Timescales of implementation of hardware.
    Process of rolling out hardware (Is it pre-configured so you just have to plug it in? Do you need to add it to the 'network'? How is software deployed? How is software decided on and how easy is it to change what is on each box?)
    What maintenance is planned for the new hardware? (This ranges from daily running, regular cleaning, performance analysis, patch and release management through to change management for possible changes of use of hardware)
    How does hardware that has come into the school fit into the replacement programme of assets? (The new box goes into a room of machines that are already 1 year old ... does it get replaced at the same time as the others? is it then skipped even though it is newer that the other kit and may be within warranty?)

    Just getting a company to highlight a single task will highlight a number of policies and procedures / processes and this can be very handy to identify schools trying to identify companies that truly have an idea about the school's needs are.

    There are various other questions like this that can be generated to twist it round to include T&L, Leadership and the various other sections of the Self-Review Framework.

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    Re: Northgate questions

    and so we get the £500 toilet seat...

  3. #18

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    Re: Northgate questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Grommit
    and so we get the £500 toilet seat...
    and no computer suites...... and no corridors ...... Did you know, if you get rid of internal corridors and make the kids circulate round the outside of the building you might have enough classrooms to accomodate all of the kids in your school? Novel idea that.

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    Re: Northgate questions

    Quote Originally Posted by broc
    Quote Originally Posted by Grommit
    and so we get the £500 toilet seat...
    and no computer suites...... and no corridors ...... Did you know, if you get rid of internal corridors and make the kids circulate round the outside of the building you might have enough classrooms to accomodate all of the kids in your school? Novel idea that.
    I've been trying to find that article by Prof. Stephen Hepple myself. Didn't have time to read it the other week and of course I've lost it now.

    *EDIT*

    It would help if I could spell Heppell! The article is here and the relevant section is
    For example it is clear that children learning with rich new media, including the internet, become focussed and engaged in a way that results in them moving less and in some schools studied this movement reduction was very substantial indeed. The debate around school design focussed historically on the need to move children efficiently, without pressure or stress, around the school; cue debate about school corridors, passing places, social interaction "lay-bys" and the rest. But, in a world where the learners move a lot less, corridor free schools are being build and, unsurprisingly, the gains include discipline as the archtypal "naughty child circulating on the corridors" vanishes.

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    Re: Northgate questions

    Quote Originally Posted by broc
    Quote Originally Posted by Grommit
    and so we get the £500 toilet seat...
    and no computer suites...... and no corridors ...... Did you know, if you get rid of internal corridors and make the kids circulate round the outside of the building you might have enough classrooms to accomodate all of the kids in your school? Novel idea that.
    Oh .. they get far more novel than that.

    When designing buildings don't make corridors, but covered walk ways. That way they do not get included in the formula that calculates students against floor space to work out how much space you should have.

    Each building has multiple stairwell, each servicing only 2 upstairs rooms and all entrance doors to downstairs rooms are directly to the covered walk ways.

    A nightmare for security but has allowed some schools to actually have classrooms that are fit for purpose.

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    Re: Northgate questions

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    Quote Originally Posted by broc
    Quote Originally Posted by Grommit
    and so we get the £500 toilet seat...
    and no computer suites...... and no corridors ...... Did you know, if you get rid of internal corridors and make the kids circulate round the outside of the building you might have enough classrooms to accomodate all of the kids in your school? Novel idea that.
    Oh .. they get far more novel than that.

    When designing buildings don't make corridors, but covered walk ways. That way they do not get included in the formula that calculates students against floor space to work out how much space you should have.

    Each building has multiple stairwell, each servicing only 2 upstairs rooms and all entrance doors to downstairs rooms are directly to the covered walk ways.

    A nightmare for security but has allowed some schools to actually have classrooms that are fit for purpose.
    Yes yes... Just like we realised that AFTER we put in the access control system there had to be a break glass by every controlled door... so where we wanted 2 way restriction failed as they could just push the break glass in and open the door..

  7. #22

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    Re: Northgate questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Grommit
    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    Quote Originally Posted by broc
    Quote Originally Posted by Grommit
    and so we get the £500 toilet seat...
    and no computer suites...... and no corridors ...... Did you know, if you get rid of internal corridors and make the kids circulate round the outside of the building you might have enough classrooms to accomodate all of the kids in your school? Novel idea that.
    Oh .. they get far more novel than that.

    When designing buildings don't make corridors, but covered walk ways. That way they do not get included in the formula that calculates students against floor space to work out how much space you should have.

    Each building has multiple stairwell, each servicing only 2 upstairs rooms and all entrance doors to downstairs rooms are directly to the covered walk ways.

    A nightmare for security but has allowed some schools to actually have classrooms that are fit for purpose.
    Yes yes... Just like we realised that AFTER we put in the access control system there had to be a break glass by every controlled door... so where we wanted 2 way restriction failed as they could just push the break glass in and open the door..
    You must not refer to covered walkways as such, they are 'Stoa' and we will have an 'Agora' too. It looks like our new school is being designed by a 'classical' architect

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    Re: Northgate questions

    Quote Originally Posted by broc
    Quote Originally Posted by Grommit
    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    Quote Originally Posted by broc
    Quote Originally Posted by Grommit
    and so we get the £500 toilet seat...
    and no computer suites...... and no corridors ...... Did you know, if you get rid of internal corridors and make the kids circulate round the outside of the building you might have enough classrooms to accomodate all of the kids in your school? Novel idea that.
    Oh .. they get far more novel than that.

    When designing buildings don't make corridors, but covered walk ways. That way they do not get included in the formula that calculates students against floor space to work out how much space you should have.

    Each building has multiple stairwell, each servicing only 2 upstairs rooms and all entrance doors to downstairs rooms are directly to the covered walk ways.

    A nightmare for security but has allowed some schools to actually have classrooms that are fit for purpose.
    Yes yes... Just like we realised that AFTER we put in the access control system there had to be a break glass by every controlled door... so where we wanted 2 way restriction failed as they could just push the break glass in and open the door..
    You must not refer to covered walkways as such, they are 'Stoa' and we will have an 'Agora' too. It looks like our new school is being designed by a 'classical' architect
    Don't you mean 'mock-classical' or 'faux-classical archicets'......modern architects just don't know how to do classical.

    God, they can't even do modern functional....they all seem to subscribe to the norman foster school of glass and 'iconic' buildings - must be an ego-thing. What's more iconic in an area than a solidly built school that is well laid out and is clearly a design of it's time/era. None of the new schools i've scene going up (none BSF) are represenative of our time - except people in 20 years time may associate them with the current period of the New Labour ego-trip of demolishing the good and replacing it with the awful.

    I'm actually suprised these new schools have architects at all, it wouldn't surprise me if the Balfour-beatty onsite foreman made the design up as he went along. These schools are the construction equivalent of the brown field noddy houses that are springing up on the outskirts of 'deprived areas'.

    These modern school constructions are utterly hiedous and are likely to age quicker than anything built in the 60's, 70's or 80's.

  9. #24

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    Re: Northgate questions

    As someone who has been in and around a few 'modern' buildings in the last 18 months I would like to point out that some work .. and Norman Foster's stuff is not that bad.

    It boils down to the same issue with all PFI and BSF work ... they have to know from the word go what the school wants ...

    I recently looked at the amended drawings of a build that went up 2 years ago. Learning from the mistakes that were made and after some improvements were added, the architects then took it to the school who crossed a heap of the improvements and questioned why they were needed.

    Builders suffer from the exact same issue as we do when planning. If they don't get the job spec given to them they can't invent it as they go along ...

    The sub-contractors may look as if they do, and the numbers of corners cut also give this impression, but they do tend to work to the design given.

    The best one has to have been a logistics group that wanted a new wing on their central office ... this had to be based on the ideology of the company, the future expansion plans, incorporate additional essential services (creche, gym, cinema^Wpresentation area, grub house^W^Wmulti-function eating area and some R & R space).

    Eventually they worked out it was easy just to get a frame built with glass on 3 sides, a mezzanine floor and put up partition walls that could be moved around. A change of decor is done with different artwork or propoganda^Wpromotional materials, all the services are run under a floating floor or via ceiling voids ... and they saved $10m ... which went as a bonus to the employees.

    Apparently, money is a better motivating factor then whether you are eating your pickled herring and watercress ciabatta next to a virtual wooded glade whilst larks sing Handel's Messiah.

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    Re: Northgate questions

    I visited a Norman Foster designed school last year, and the ground floor classrooms had glass walls, floor to ceiling. The school has to employ extra cleaners to wipe off the greasy marks which build up every day. At the end of each period as the pupils poured out into the wide central corridor the noise level was very high, more like being in a swimming pool during the height of the summer holidays. SMT acknowledged that they would have liked to do certain things differently, but there was no wiggle room where Norm was concerned. It's all or nothing. You would probably be better off using a firm of architects without such a strong ego at the head, and that's what you'll probably get.

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    Re: Northgate questions

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    As someone who has been in and around a few 'modern' buildings in the last 18 months I would like to point out that some work .. and Norman Foster's stuff is not that bad.

    It boils down to the same issue with all PFI and BSF work ... they have to know from the word go what the school wants ...

    I recently looked at the amended drawings of a build that went up 2 years ago. Learning from the mistakes that were made and after some improvements were added, the architects then took it to the school who crossed a heap of the improvements and questioned why they were needed.

    Builders suffer from the exact same issue as we do when planning. If they don't get the job spec given to them they can't invent it as they go along ...

    The sub-contractors may look as if they do, and the numbers of corners cut also give this impression, but they do tend to work to the design given.

    The best one has to have been a logistics group that wanted a new wing on their central office ... this had to be based on the ideology of the company, the future expansion plans, incorporate additional essential services (creche, gym, cinema^Wpresentation area, grub house^W^Wmulti-function eating area and some R & R space).

    Eventually they worked out it was easy just to get a frame built with glass on 3 sides, a mezzanine floor and put up partition walls that could be moved around. A change of decor is done with different artwork or propoganda^Wpromotional materials, all the services are run under a floating floor or via ceiling voids ... and they saved $10m ... which went as a bonus to the employees.

    Apparently, money is a better motivating factor then whether you are eating your pickled herring and watercress ciabatta next to a virtual wooded glade whilst larks sing Handel's Messiah.
    i think rebuild of a school under BSF should be a last resort. From what I understand it's up to each authority how they carry out the BSF spend...whether that's refurb or rebuild. I think a lot of schools, particularly those that are aesthetically pleasing are merely in need of refurbishment. There are many schools that need tearing down, as refurb is money down a bottomless pit.

    But a lot of BSF appears to be sledgehammer to crack a nut. A kind of one size all approach that seems to lack flexibility.

    I'm reminded of a channel 4 programme a couple of years ago, where that frightfully nice chap from Grand Designs hosted a show about Britains most hideous buildings as voted by joe and jane public. One of the approaches was to see if, actually, these weren't awful eyesores in need of tearing down but much misunderstood iconic buildings of their era....and that could be transformed into something more appealing with a tin of paint and the help of an imaginative architect. A lot of the buldings could be repurposed and redesigned without demolision.

    Now it goes without saying we love our victorian and edwardian built schools (and public baths for that matter) but i'm sure there a lot of schools from the more recent decades that are pearls covered in shit. Basically, you could show jane public a picture of their local school and they might say it was an awful construction, a brain fart of the ___insert decade here____.......

    But show them the same school with a little bit of external tinkering and she could easily be convinced otherwise. Same goes for the internals of the school. These schools may have small corridors and are a little worse for wear and in general they actually look like schools as we know and love/hate them due to the years of underfunding but they have more character than a lot of new builds. And it'd be cheaper to do. I actually like modern, and modern design that has thought about space in an unusual and innovative way. But the current modern buildings have no consideration for their surroundings and are overall bad interpretations of modern.

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    Re: Northgate questions

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    As someone who has been in and around a few 'modern' buildings in the last 18 months I would like to point out that some work .. and Norman Foster's stuff is not that bad.

    It boils down to the same issue with all PFI and BSF work ... they have to know from the word go what the school wants ...

    I recently looked at the amended drawings of a build that went up 2 years ago. Learning from the mistakes that were made and after some improvements were added, the architects then took it to the school who crossed a heap of the improvements and questioned why they were needed.

    Builders suffer from the exact same issue as we do when planning. If they don't get the job spec given to them they can't invent it as they go along ...

    The sub-contractors may look as if they do, and the numbers of corners cut also give this impression, but they do tend to work to the design given.
    we also has some experiences in our build..

    When standing in a partly built shell.. one gets the feel of the building that Teaching/Support staff don't get from the plans.

    you can then feel the flow, vibe and usage of the area..

    But when you try to move a door 2m to the right to alleviate a bottleneck say the builders inform you that they have no design input and they will only build what is on the plans.. not a screw more or a screw less.. and they are cannot stop the build as it will cause delay and impact on the other phases..

    Then starts the arduous task of trying to move the door..

    One you have danced the dance it's too late anyway because the builders have finished the phase and you have the door (or whatever) in the wrong place.. heh heh

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    Re: Northgate questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Grommit
    One you have danced the dance it's too late anyway because the builders have finished the phase and you have the door (or whatever) in the wrong place.. heh heh
    Yep ... the chat I had with this particular group of architects was an eye opener, even for someone who has worked on building sites (security guard, hoddy, chippy's mate, general labourer) it was funny to hear them say the 3 biggest problems in public sector builds are fit for purpose designs, timescales and money.

    You can have any 2 of the 3 sorted the way you want, but not all 3. (hmm ... Section 7a of RFC1925 springs to mind here!)

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    fit for purpose ???

    As this thread has now got on to the wonders of modern schools and the joys of old edwardian buildings we should not forget what schools are for ie learning (not for containing young people to stop them getting locked up somewhere a bit more expensive with a 24/7 service honest ...). Part of the reason for BSF was the idea that the 21 century brings challenges to the traditional form of education and if teachers think their Job is full of change they have not seen anything yet. Put children in groups of thirty with one teacher who inparts the wonders of the periodic table, calculus and 1066 is 19th century learning. After all most students learn more useful about computers from using them in their own time than they ever do at school.
    The problem with all these wonderful ideals of modernising is when the bottom line comes in and it is realised that they can be achieved at a price that is affordable and compromise is made often to such an extent that all you do is a patch up job....

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    As an ex-Chair of Governors for a Wave 1 BSF Secondary School, I sat through the early 'blue sky' BSF visions and watched them get slowly crushed....

    We had the 'visionary' stage, where staff and governors were told to think 'outside of the box'; don't be constrained in your thinking by space, classrooms,cost, timetables; say what you need and convince us how this would make education better..... Great!

    Then we had the 'hang on a bit'.... we only have xxx million pounds available, and that has to cover all of the consultant costs, and the cost of temporary accomodation etc etc so maybe we had better stick to BB98.... and by the way as you have falling rolls we will size your school based upon the rolls you will have when it is due to open, ignoring the fact that the rolls are due to increase shortly afterwards....

    Then we had the 'Oh dear... this isn't going to fit in the budget is it?' stage, where ideas such as 'extend the school day, so not all students are onsite at the same time then we can build a smaller school....' were suggested, finally we got to cutting out/down on corridors, and staff workspaces, and staffrooms, and no space for technicians or covered areas for students so they would not have to be turfed out at break & lunchtime when raining.....

    The final straw was being pressured into signing up unconditionally to the idea that ICT and other site services should be outsourced without any backout clause, even though nobody could say what we were signing up to.

    I resigned. I had enough.

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