Empty commercial property could be put to good use in providing premises for new schools, the British Council for School Environments has claimed. The charity has recently put the case that planning laws should be rewritten to enable the government’s flagship New Academies policy to move forward by situating the initiatives in empty and abandoned buildings, including old churches, shopping centres, factories and office space. London has many suitable premises that are otherwise going to waste, including the Bolingbroke Hospital in Wandsworth, argued the BCSE.
In times of financial constraint, such measures are highly desirable to both the government and groups of parents and teachers hoping to open their own ‘free school’ under the Academies legislation. The Department of Education alone has around 100 buildings that might be considered for conversion.
Currently, just one school in the country operates in converted former office space, and the proposals have come under fire from teachers for being unrealistic.
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