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School Science Facilities

Volume 453: debated on Monday 20 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps his Department has taken to refurbish school science laboratories since May 2005. (101214)

The Government have set out their strategy to deliver the best in science teaching and learning in “Science and Innovation Investment Framework 2004-14: Next Steps”, published in March.

We are also providing the capital investment to back this up. Refurbishment and new building of school science laboratories is a priority in most of the Department’s capital programmes. Overall, we are supporting capital investment in schools of £5.5 billion in 2005-06, £5.9 billion in 2006-07 and £6.4 billion in 2007-08. Every secondary school and every local authority is, for example, able to invest in laboratories, where this is needed. Our strategic programmes, Building Schools for the Future and Academies, are also providing brand new science laboratories: planning is underway for almost a third of secondary schools, with every school due to benefit over the longer term.

To back up the strategy and the investment, we are also ensuring that science facilities are designed to meet curriculum needs and to inspire excellent teaching and learning. “Project Faraday” has been launched to address this need. Teams of leading designers and educationalists with expertise in science teaching will develop a range of exemplar designs for school science laboratories by mid-2007. Science demonstration projects will then be built to provide practical examples, to act as benchmarks and to disseminate the learning. We will evaluate the project over a number of years.