Policies and outcomes for UK sustainable schools

Alice Moncaster, Peter Simmons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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The 1997-2010 UK Government’s priorities for education and improved social equality led to the development of two major school building programmes, the Academies programme and Building Schools for the Future (BSF). Political concerns for social, economic and environmental sustainability were increasing during the same period, leading to stated new aspirations from 2004 for the schools to be ‘models of sustainable development’. This paper examines the key political discourses for ‘sustainable schools’ during this era. It shows that, while some aspects of the initial focus on social equity were retained, there was a rapid shift in emphasis towards environmental sustainability, and specifically carbon reduction. The impacts of these shifting discourses are then considered on four school building projects, examining the technical decisions made and their intended and unintended consequences. Within the diversity and complexity of individual building projects, the paper also exposes both the changing priorities within the construction sector during this period, and the impacts of some specific policy tools. The paper demonstrates the considerable interpretive flexibility in the implementation of the policies and variability in their outcomes, concluding that construction policy should be understood as a continuous process, which shapes and reshapes what happens.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-464
Number of pages13
JournalBuilding Research and Information
Issue number4
Early online date11 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • carbon emissions
  • outcomes
  • policy formation
  • policy implementation
  • public policy
  • schools
  • socio-technical systems
  • stakeholder participation
  • sustainable development

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