As a local training Practice, we are committed to taking on work experience students from local school and colleges.

As many parents and teachers will know, dedicated, supported and worthwhile work experience opportunities for our young adults is critical in helping inform them of prospective career paths.  We often take on work placement students, for anything between two weeks and twelve months, with a view to giving them as real as an experience as possible of the working world of architecture.

However, as a local architectural practice, we also believe that local schools and local colleges should use local companies to design, construct and alter their school buildings, and as such, our Practice welcomes the recent news from the Education Funding Agency to establish a second-tier regional contracting framework for school refurbishment projects up to the value of £10m.  This new framework is expected to be operational from July 2014, and will be made available to local authorities and individual schools for refurbishment and re-modelling, but also for the EFA’s own capital programmes.

We are delighted that there is now an opportunity to engage with local companies, for local benefit, and in the interests of all, and eargerly await the details of the tendering process, to be announced later in November 2013.

Reading the RIBA’s press release, we share the view that the reduction of the barriers for SMEs and micro-businesses to bid for the work is to be welcomed.  However, we also feel that further breaking down the frameworks in to tiers that relate to different contract values and differentiate between new build and refurbishment would help small businesses even more.

The RIBA has questioned whether the EFA framework will give schools enough control over the selection of consultant teams and contractors and ultimately the quality of outcomes, and calls for school clients to be embedded in the appointment process. The Institute is also concerned that a reliance solely on contractor-led procurement models is limiting stakeholder engagement, and that sustainability and quality of outcomes may be being compromised.

Through our commitment to young adults, we are of course more than happy to meet with local schools who have plans to alter, expand or rebuild, with a view to helping them stay in control as much as possible.