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Schools sector leads the way with new accredited advisory service


18 March 2010

Press office contact:

Mina Vadon
T: +44 (0)207 307 3761
E: mina.vadon@riba.org

Design professionals with the skills, experience and knowledge about what makes a good school are being encouraged to apply to become an accredited Client Design Advisor (CDA) to work with local authorities, schools, communities and contractors as part of the national Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.


The new Education CDA list will be a key element of the support linked to the BSF Minimum Design Standard introduced in May 2009. Designs falling short of the standard will not proceed through procurement and into construction.  


Local authorities will be expected to select an accredited Education CDA to work with them throughout their BSF project, from initial project planning and stakeholder engagement, through design and even after the school has opened and is in use. The wide-ranging role will entail advising and guiding local authorities through the procurement process to help them ensure they get well-designed schools and grounds. The CDA will also be required to advise on sustainability issues.


From 18 March 2010 built environment professionals will be able to apply to be on the accredited Education CDA list, which is being set up jointly by Partnerships for Schools, (PfS), the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE). The RIBA is managing the accreditation and list on behalf of PfS, the organisation responsible for schools capital programmes including BSF. PfS is supporting local authorities in their appointment of CDAs, and CABE will provide specialist training and organise opportunities for sharing knowledge.


Tim Byles, Chief Executive of PfS, said: “BSF is leading the way in design matters to ensure that this unprecedented investment results in schools which are safe, welcoming and inspiring places to learn. The new Education Client Design Adviser role will be key to helping local authorities develop a clear design brief, taking into account the views of schools and the local community, and to keep this vision at the forefront throughout procurement and into construction and beyond.


“Working together with the RIBA and CABE, we are committed to identifying and nurturing talented and passionate design professionals who can guide and support local authorities to deliver the very best schools fit for the 21st century.”


Paul Fletcher, Chair of RIBA CDA Steering Group and RIBA National Councillor,  said of the initiative: “The CDA role is critical to ensuring that client and end user outcome value is created through modern procurement methods and is a key aspect of the RIBA’s commitment to enabling quality and value in public sector projects. We are very pleased to be working jointly with CABE in developing and managing an Education specific CDA for PfS. We are hopeful that other government departments will now too recognise the importance and value of RIBA accredited CDAs and jointly develop other sector specific CDA roles.”


Peter Maxwell, head of better public building at CABE, said: “CABE is helping local authorities choose good design for all their BSF schools. One of the many ways we do this is by ensuring that CDAs have the right knowledge, skills and experience. We are running a number of training and networking events, looking at issues such as sustainability, minimum design standards, affordability and post occupancy evaluation.”


Professionals applying to be on the list will be asked to demonstrate their skills, knowledge and experience under the following headings:


  •   Vision and experience;
  •   Stakeholder engagement;
  •   Setting and safeguarding design quality;
  •   Design value management;
  •   Use of the buildings.


Applications can be made online via the RIBA website|. The closing date for applications is 30 April 2010, with the accredited list due to be published in June. Applications will be considered by an independent panel, bringing together experts in all aspects of procuring, designing and building schools.

For further information on becoming a CDA Adviser, contact David Plaisant at the RIBA on 020 7307 8566 or clientdesignadviser@inst.riba.org

Notes to editors

1. The Minimum Design Standard was jointly established by PfS and CABE and administered by CABE’s schools design panel. The panel scores schemes against 10 assessment criteria and gives an overall design quality rating for each scheme. From late 2009 all schemes have been subject to a Minimum Design Standard - proposals that fail to meet the standard will not be built. More information is available at: http://www.cabe.org.uk/design-review/schools/minimum-design-standard

2. Partnerships for Schools (PfS) is the government’s delivery agent for the full suite of capital investment programmes into schools, helping ensure that taxpayers get the best value from every education pound spent.

3. PfS is responsible for the delivery of around £8.5bn investment into education until 2011– through Building Schools for the Future; the Academies programme; the Primary Capital Programme; and the Devolved and Targeted Capital Programmes.

4. Building Schools for the Future is the largest capital investment programme for 50 years that will provide world-class teaching and learning environments for all pupils, teachers and communities in England. Over the lifetime of the programme, BSF will help improve the life chances of 3.3m children every year.

5. CABE is the government’s advisor on architecture, urban design and public space. As a public body, we encourage policymakers to create places that work for people. We help local planners apply national design policy and offer expert advice to developers and architects. We show public sector clients how to commission buildings that meet the needs of their users. And we seek to inspire the public to demand more from their buildings and spaces. Advising, influencing and inspiring, we work to create well-designed, welcoming places. www.cabe.org.uk

6. CABE support for the BSF programme includes:

  • for local authorities entering BSF after Wave 6, CABE helps local authorities to put together their ‘readiness to deliver’ documents for PfS
  • training for client design advisors
  • ensuring that local authorities and school clients, particularly those new to the role, have access to project support necessary for them to act with confidence in their role as intelligent clients
  • the schools design panel reviews sample proposals from bidders - and implements the minimum design standard - helping local authorities evaluate design quality
  • practical advice and guidance in publications and resources – such as Successful school design and Creating excellent secondary schools

7. The Royal Institute of British Architects is the UK body for architecture and the architectural profession.  It provides support for its 40,500 members worldwide in the form of training, technical services, publications and events, and set standards for the education of architects, both in the UK and overseas. The RIBA works with government to improve the design quality of public buildings, new homes and new communities.

For more information please contact:

Nicky Old, Partnerships for Schools: 0203 301 7006 / nicky.old@partnershipsforschools.org.uk|

David Plaisant, RIBA: 020 7307 8566 / clientdesignadvisor@inst.riba.org|  

Jane Barraclough, CABE: 020 7070 6771 /  jbarraclough@cabe.org.uk|  


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