Now, it’s easy to see why he’s keen to seen if schools can be built at lower costs. It’s also easy to see how a bit more standardisation between different new school designs could reduce costs.
So looking for more standardisation in design? No problem.
Demanding that the cost per square metre of new schools comes in at a lower figure? Quite possibly reasonable, especially given how expensive some recent schools have been.
But instead of simply doing these two things, Michael Gove has gone much further, issuing micro-meddling regulations about exactly how new schools should be designed, even down to the level of banning curved walls (yes, really). The new rules include this stricture:
No curves or ‘faceted’ curves
Corners must all be square. ”Orthognal: good! Curve: bad!” is the new Gove battle-cry.
Peter Clegg, a partner at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios which has designed more than a dozen schools, said: “It is extraordinarily over-prescriptive and it shows an extreme lack of trust in the architectural and construction professions to deliver schools to budget.
“Why are they not just telling us how much they want to pay per square metre? I can understand them wanting to turn the screw on the budget, but why do they not give architects who understand these things the ability to decide.”
Regulating from Whitehall the shape of corners in every new school across England? Once again, my sympathies are with the political satire writers. How are they going to keep up?