(2) what discussions he has had with national disability groups on their input to school design and access planning under the Building Schools for the Future programme;
(3) what involvement there has been for parents of children with disabilities or special educational needs in reviewing the criteria for school new builds under the Building Schools for the Future programme;
(4) what his policy is on involving (a) parents, (b) children and (c) disability groups in building design criteria for schools which admit children with disabilities and special educational needs; and if he will make a statement;
(5) what discussions he has had with Partnerships for Schools about the effectiveness of his Department's guidance for adaptations for children with disabilities and special educational needs in implementation of the Building Schools for the Future programme;
(6) how many school new build design proposals under the Building Schools for the Future programme have been subject to revision because of access problems for children with disabilities and special educational needs.
The Department for Children Schools and Families and Partnerships for Schools are committed to inclusive design and there are a number of processes in place to ensure that Building Schools for the Future new build proposals meet the needs of children with disabilities and special educational needs:
The design of a new school has to comply with Approved Document M of the Building Regulations 'Access to and use of buildings' and this is checked through the Building Control system.
Under the Disability Discrimination Act, all buildings have to provide suitable access for disabled people.
Teams bidding for Building Schools for the Future projects cannot proceed through to procurement if their sample designs do not meet a Minimum Design Standard judged by a panel set up by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) which includes people with experience in special school design and accessibility.
The Building Schools for the Future standard contract documentation includes a requirement to create an access document, which records all actions taken to ensure access and inclusion are appropriate.
In addition, the Department and Partnerships for Schools have regular contact with a variety of disability groups over design matters. For example, a number of organisations—including the Council for Disabled Children, the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) and the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS)—advised the Department on its publication Building Bulletin 102: 'Designing for Disabled Children and Children with Special Educational Needs', which is the main reference guide for designing inclusive mainstream and special schools in Building Schools for the Future.
More recently DCSF ministers and officials have held extensive discussions with the NDCS about acoustics in Building Schools for the Future projects.
The Department and Partnerships for Schools encourage local authorities and designers to involve all children—including those with disabilities or special educational needs—and their parents in the design briefing process. The Design Quality Indicator (DQI) for Schools, which helps staff children, and parents to establish what they want in their new building, is mandatory for all Building Schools for the Future projects over £1 million. The resulting information has to be submitted to the Minimum Design Standard panel to inform their decision on whether the design is suitable and passes the threshold. Partnerships for Schools also use the DQI information to inform Building Schools for the Future benchmarking, and in turn to improve the design brief template that forms part of the Building Schools for the Future standard documentation. For more information on the DQI for Schools process, see:
In addition, Partnerships for Schools encourages all students involved in Building Schools for the Future to take part in the Sorrell Foundation's 'joinedupdesign' sessions where they create a Pupils' Brief to be fed into the schools design brief. For more information on joinedupdesign, see:
The Department and Partnerships for Schools have estimated that around 50 per cent. of Building Schools for the Future projects will involve remodelling or refurbishment. All design guidance issued by the Department and Partnerships for Schools has therefore been written with this in mind. Building Bulletin 102: 'Designing for Disabled Children and Children with Special Educational Needs' can be used to design new facilities and for assessing the suitability of existing accommodation.
The Department does not routinely collect information about revisions that have been made to new build proposals. But we expect all school projects to be designed to be accessible and inclusive, following the requirements of the Building Regulations, the DDA and the Departments design guidance.
(2) how much has been spent on refurbishing schools through the Building Schools for the Future programme; how much has been spent dealing with asbestos during such refurbishments; and if he will make a statement.
Of the 129 schools where work under Building Schools for the Future (BSF) is complete, 30 have included refurbishment. In a further 21, the work was confined to ICT renewal. Asbestos surveys may or may not have been required, depending on the age of the buildings. The total capital funding provided for these schools under BSF is £429 million, including £66 million for ICT. Information on the number of refurbished schools that contained asbestos or the amounts spent on asbestos removal is not held centrally. Overall the BSF programme is expected to comprise approximately 35 per cent. major refurbishment, 15 per cent. minor refurbishment and 50 per cent. new build in terms of floor area. Major refurbishments carried out under the Building Schools for the Future programme normally include removal of all asbestos in areas likely to be disturbed by the work. Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) that are likely to deteriorate are identified by an asbestos survey for each refurbishment and normally removed.
Asbestos is also removed when buildings are demolished. For minor refurbishment work, an asbestos survey is done and ACMs are either removed or managed in place, depending on their condition.