Helping develop the National College for School Leadership’s new Future website for school leaders involved in BSF and the new Primary Capital Programme (PCP) has uncovered some astonishing insights. Like those of the Barnsley BSF team which introduced the “galloping horse” reference.
One of the first news features on the site - “Stick to schedule - or lose £250k a week” - brings home the pace and scale of BSF, and the potential pitfalls. It describes how the team running Barnsley’s £120 million BSF scheme is tackling the issue of construction industry inflation which could eat away at the cash intended for building new schools. Barnsley has made BSF a top political and community priority.
The massive capital spending project that is BSF has attracted a fair share of flak for various reasons, not least the sheer pace of change and the action expected from LAs and school leaders who’ve been swept up in the first phases, known as "waves".
Video interviews with leaders at the heart of transforming learning
There are intriguing – and ultimately encouraging – insights into the reality of participating in BSF to be found on the Future website launched earlier this month by the NCSL. It is also rich in video interviews with those involved in leading-edge new schools, developed from highly ambitious visions for learning.
But although the Barnsley lesson is a timely warning to would-be BSF participants to keep a very tight rein on their planning, the “galloping horse” metaphor is apt in other ways. And there is more than a hint of the thrill of the chase here – real excitement at being involved in a scheme which will see 13 dilapidated secondary schools swept away and replaced by a series of visionary buildings to regenerate and transform a hard-pressed local community – you can almost feel it.