5 Considerations When Planning a New School Building
New school buildings are a hot topic at the moment since the School Rebuilding Programme was announced in 2022 and over £13 billion has been allocated since 2015 to maintain and improve school facilities across England. Whether the new school building under consideration is to serve an entire school or simply provide additional space to an existing school, it will need to be extensively thought out and planned carefully to ensure it meets all the needs it is supposed to.
Planning a new building is a great opportunity for a school to rethink the kind of education it provides and look at how to improve it – moving from traditional modular classrooms off a corridor to spaces better designed for collaboration and problem-solving. There are a vast number of considerations to make for a new school building, but here are 5 of the main ones.
All planning for a new school building should be undertaken with much care and discussion with all the relevant stakeholders. What are the values, ethos and culture of the school? Who will be using the building? What are the ages and types of students? And will it be a community space as well as a school? What are the ‘must haves’ for teaching spaces? What curriculum will be taught? What infrastructure is necessary, and what is the strategy for technology? Will there be a need for shared or specialised curriculum spaces? There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to the design and construction of a new school building and whilst your Head should have an idea of what they’re aiming to gain, they also have to think about potential shifts in future approaches to education and how the building will meet those evolving needs.
Much depends on getting the planning right, as no school wants to spend the vast sums of money involved in a building project on something that will need to be immediately remodelled – as no one had thought about the power supplies to the classrooms or having designed toilet facilities that don’t have sinks because they weren’t on the plan. This is where having a professional company, like MPB, to support your school building project will come into its own as they are able to guide the school’s management and help them to consider things that they might have not thought about.
2. Physical space
A large consideration of its own, but connected to the planning process, is thinking through the physical space available and how to best use it. How to integrate indoor and outdoor spaces, so that all staff and students can benefit from a great school building that helps children develop physically, socially, emotionally, spiritually and cognitively.
The physical space of a school also needs to be planned for the health and safety of students – considering security, fire exits, and the heating, lighting, air quality and restroom facilities to ensure they meet the legislative requirements for schools and the numbers of persons onsite at any given time. Some of the other elements of the physical space that need to be considered, but aren’t exclusive to, include:
- Cloakroom and toilet or changing areas
- Visibility into teaching spaces
- Power and data points
- Display walls and teacher’s whiteboards or interactive whiteboards
- Desks – both students’ and teacher’s
- Connections to other teaching spaces or breakout rooms
- Curriculum spaces
- Use of natural lighting
3. Eco considerations
With the growing effects of climate change becoming more obvious, it is a logical consideration with designing a new school building to consider how your new school building could be more eco-friendly.
Prioritising indoor air quality with an HVAC system that can maintain better air quality as well as keeping temperatures at a comfortable level for staff and students alike. Energy-efficient resources are easy to source and not expensive to install, saving money from the school budget as well as being more ecologically responsible – these can include occupancy sensor lighting, smart temperature controllers and LED lights. If you’re building from scratch, why not consider solar panels to reduce energy bills?
Ethically sourced materials are another way to ensure a more ecologically friendly new school building by limiting waste and reducing production emissions. It is also more eco-friendly to design classrooms which are more adaptable and can serve several different purposes or be divided with folding walls or moveable furniture and storage units. Maximising natural daylight is also a way to use less energy whilst improving vision and productivity for students – so it impacts more than just the cost of lighting in a positive way.
Money is always a hot potato subject, and with school budgets being stretched ever thinner by leaner governmental budgets and rising student intake numbers, schools are always looking to save on their precious finances. This is a hard situation as you don’t want to make the false economy of compromising quality in order to save money, as it always costs more in the long run. Although some funds for financing new school buildings might be available from the government, this is not an unlimited resource with so many schools needing rebuilding or renovating, especially in the light of the recent RAAC crisis.
Choosing to create your new building with modular classrooms, could be the solution to the project’s budgetary constraints that you’re looking for. Modular buildings are ecologically friendly, as they’re made with many renewable or recyclable materials, but they are durable enough to last for decades – especially when properly maintained. Able to have multiple ‘modules’ interconnected and stacked with connecting staircases, entrances and exits as well as modified to include all the necessary elements of heating, lighting, air quality controls and restrooms and to have all the different spaces created that you need, a modular school building could be the perfect solution for your school.
5. Managing the project
Managing the design, plan and build of a new school building, whether it be only a single classroom addition or the construction of an entirely new school needs to be carefully managed. The school head and management will need to know the plans and help with the initial design of what the school needs, but the day-to-day running of the school will mean that no head or teacher is able to manage the project as well as do their job. This is where a professional company steps into the gap. Able to manage the processes of planning permission and building regulations – checking that the design is going to work for the school’s needs and managing the project from start to handover.
The building of a new school by traditional methods will take a long time and cause a great deal of disruption and this needs to be properly taken care of to prevent too much upheaval for the staff and students who will need to be carrying on the daily process of education during the project. A large building project can mean a reduction of parking and playground space, noise and simply a lot of dust and dirt, not to mention possible interruptions to utilities and services. A professional company can help to manage all these elements liaising with the school’s management to ensure a smoothly completed project.
Choosing a modular school building will minimise the disruption of a new build massively. Modular buildings are constructed offsite and then transported to, and set up, onsite in a fraction of the time that a traditional new building would take and a professional company, such as MPB, will manage the process for you from start to finish.
How MPB can help with your new school building project
Midlands Portable Buildings has been constructing buildings for schools for decades and has vast experience in creating the perfect school environments for many nurseries, schools, colleges and universities. With all of our buildings constructed to your bespoke requirements offsite and then transported to your property and set up in a mere matter of weeks, you can have the perfect school building constructed in no time. We also aim to complete the majority of the work at times that will cause the least amount of disruption to your school’s everyday operations.
Whether you need a single additional classroom or an entirely new school building, we are confident that we have the expertise and capacity to handle the project for you. Get in touch today with a member of our team to discuss your school’s needs and get a free, no-obligation quote.