Shopping for Schools – Should Architects Help?

This worries me:

As schools behave more like private businesses they will be in competition with one another to attract the best teachers and students. Architects can draw on their experience in the private sector to help them achieve this.

It worries me because I think some of it (in England) is probably true.

It worries me because the tone of inevitability is worrying and that instead of working against that tide, architects are instead encouraged to aid the process of (publicly funded) schools behaving more like private businesses.

It worries me to think what will happen to the not-best students and the not-best teachers. (By definition the best is a pretty exclusive place, right?)

It worries me that ‘best’ is not discussed (best at what and, inseparably, by whose measure?) or how that ‘best’ in a chaff-from-wheat sorting way is in any way at all an ethical method for allocating nice or new school buildings.

It worries me because it blows apart the idea of a local school.

It worries me because I think schools have always tried to attract the best teachers for their students (or at least I don’t know of any school that has tried to attract mediocre or poor teachers) regardless of the system they’re in.

It worries me because a functioning model of competition requires participants in the market to have perfect information, real capabilities to choose and be geographically indifferent/available. And I don’t know a single student or teacher to whom that applies. And when the model’s wrong you need to ditch it and you need to find another that works.

It’s worrying that this is part of an initiative called “Great Schools” and is a link between an established architecture firm and a leading Architecture magazine.

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Author: Adam Wood

Education researcher - school architecture. Blog: https://architectureandeducation.org

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