Section Two: Environment
This section describes good practice with reference to standards, practice documents, legislation and research alongside case studies and photographs.
This section also includes some minimum standards e.g. space standards, natural light, the number of toilets and outdoor play space.
- Importance of location
- Security of the entrance
The location of the setting is important to parents, children and staff. Research tells us that 86% of parents chose a service for their child because it was near to work/home/education  . It is important to think carefully about how accessible the setting is. For example, having a setting close to or on college and university campuses can encourage and support parents in accessing education and training  .
The children at Aberdour Pre-school Playgroup visit the beach
The location should enable children to be an active part of the local community.  When considering the use of existing community assets you should not limit thinking to 'vacant' premises but consider co-location with not only schools but other settings where co-location could be of benefit, such care homes for older people where the intergenerational benefits to both the adults and the children could be enhanced in building positive and stimulating relationships. You should consider how the local community and surrounding area can provide positive learning experiences that have a positive impact on children's health and wellbeing.
Some parents prefer an out of school care setting to be part of their child's school campus. This prevents children moving from one location to another every day. Some school age children may also prefer the settings to operate from their school as they are familiar with this environment. Others however, may prefer a change of environment as they may feel they are still 'in school' even during school holidays.
Families who have a child attending an out of school care and an early learning and childcare settings may find it useful to have both located together or in close proximity. Where an early learning and childcare setting is located within a primary school building it is helpful to locate the setting near to the early level primary classes to support transition.
A setting located within a local community may enable some parents and children to walk to the service. However, some parents will travel out with their immediate community to be near work, education or as they identify the service as best meeting their needs and the needs of their child. Some parents may choose to access public transport however others may use their car. Car parking, where provided, should allow children and parents to walk safely to the setting. 
The children at Tweedbank Early Learners, Galashiels enjoy their local area
- How accessible is the location of the service to those who may use it?
- Is the location somewhere parents would want to bring their children to, and children would want to come to?
- Consider other amenities/businesses nearby, pollution, noise.
- How suitable and stimulating is the local environment for children?
- Where are other childcare settings based that parents may use?
There should be a balance between security and a stimulating and inviting entrance for children and their parents. A secure entrance is essential to support safety and monitor access. Some examples could include:
- a bell entry system
- a glazed panel on the door or at the side of the door which allows the staff member to see who is outside
- key pad entry
- a video security system at the main door, accessed remotely, can help staff to monitor the entrance without having to leave the childcare areas.
The entrance should be accessible to all and should be as visible as possible. This space should be sufficiently illuminated to ensure the area is safe and visible in the dark. The entrance should be wide enough for wheelchair and large buggies access  .
The approach to the setting should be inviting to children, as the aesthetic quality deeply influences a child's acceptance of a new environment.  An aesthetically pleasing entrance encourages children inside and helps then feel a sense of belonging. Children in Germany can enjoy the excitement of attending a setting designed as a cat, where they can slide down the tail to get to the outdoor space. 
- How welcoming is the entrance and would it be somewhere children would want to go explore?
- How safe is the entrance and exit?
- Would people be able to go inside without being seen?
- Is the immediate area outside safe i.e. safety barriers onto main roads?
- Would children be able to leave the environment without the knowledge of an adult?
Space for Children
- Space Standards
- The use of space for positive outcomes for children
- Space to sleep and rest
- Indoor/outdoor settings
- Space to eat
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child has the right to play  . This is supported by the Scottish Government's Play Strategy, which states that all children and young people should have space and time to play  . The Health and Care Standards state 'as a child I can direct my own play and activities in a way that I choose and freely access a wide range of experiences and resources suitable to my age and stage, which stimulate natural curiosity, learning and creativity.  ' In practice, this means that children need sufficient space to play, learn and develop in early learning and childcare and out of school care settings.
Having a designated playroom or space for any child does not mean children are unable to spend time in other space. All children should be able to access all appropriate areas and settings during their day that will support their development, learning and social interactions.
Space standards are a feature in UK and international early learning and childcare settings  . Research has been conducted into assessing: what constitutes the best space standard  ; how space can affect a child's stress levels; and how it can play an important role in developing their communication and social skills  . Additionally, we know that the first two years of life children are absorbed in learning to crawl and walk. Having more generous space for younger children allows then to develop confidence while safely reaching their developmental milestones.
Current Care Inspectorate Expectations
- For children under two years - a minimum of 3.7 square metres, per child
- For children aged two years to under three years - a minimum of 2.8 square meters, per child
- For children aged three and over - a minimum of 2.3 square meters, per child.
The space referred to is defined as space for children's play and movement. This should not include toilets, changing facilities, storage space, space taken up by set fixtures and fittings or any space identified for other use i.e. kitchens, staff/parents or community space.
The Care Inspectorate's primary focus will be on working flexibly and collaboratively with providers to support innovation and improvement in the delivery of high quality early learning and childcare, and out of school care, that achieves the best possible outcomes for children. In light of new health and care standards launched on 9 June 2017, the Care Inspectorate will work with providers and other partners to establish best practice guidance based on evidence and research.
Cowie Nursery, Stirling
NB -These space standards have been derived from previous guidance and legislation. The School Premises Regulations (General Requirements and Standards) (Scotland) Regulations 1967  and associated amendments are currently under review by the Scottish Government. The proposal is that reference to nursery schools and classes is removed from the amended Regulations which will come into force early in 2018, on the understanding that they are referenced within other guidance. Therefore, it is expected that the space standards as detailed above apply to all early learning and childcare and out of school care settings.
The environment should be relaxed, homely, comfortable and welcoming  . A nurturing environment will help promote a positive sense of wellbeing for children  . The environment should be safe  and children should feel safe and protected  . The environment should support and develop all of the needs of individual children, including their physical, cognitive and emotional needs  . Education Scotland's tool for self-evaluation refers to the environment as 'Our accommodation provides a safe, secure and stimulating learning environment that is of a very high standard of cleanliness  .
Headstart Nursery, Glasgow
How space is used is extremely important to children and to those who work with them. When adults look at the environment from a child's perspective it helps them understand how it looks and feels to a child. When planning space for children it is important to think of what children need or would want to help them develop and grow. When planning a setting you may not be aware of all of the needs of the children who may be attending. Therefore you will need to continually evaluate and review the environment to meet the needs of all children.
The physical environment can make a lot of demands on children, particularly for children with additional support needs. The environment must be inclusive of all children regardless of their abilities and needs. Careful consideration and thoughtful planning, particularly at key transition points in the child's learning journey, will ensure that the environment responds to all children's needs. An environment which is welcoming, calm and quiet is generally conducive to learning and care, however, for some children the nature of their needs may have practical implications, for example wheel chair access, sound proofing. As with physical, visual or hearing impairment, for children with communication impairments it is important that reasonable adjustments are made to reduce as many barriers to learning and participation as possible. Children with autism spectrum disorder can find the environment particularly challenging. This is mainly due to sensory difficulties and problems with central coherence. Recent studies examine challenges for children with autism spectrum disorder in relation to the classroom, however this could be transferred to any learning environment for children:
'For almost any other special need, the classroom only becomes disabling when a demand to perform a given task is made. For the child with autism, disability begins at the door.' 
Nubo Play Sydney - hot air balloon reading area
An on-going evaluation and review of the impact on children of the environment will ensure the environment supports the needs of all children.
Children need space to be with children in large or small groups  , to make friends and build relationships with children and adults and to be active. However, children also need space to be on their own,  to have some quiet time and to relax  . This is particularly important for children with autism spectrum disorder, who may need time alone during times of stress  .
Public Day Nursery Jules Guesde Paris - B+C Architects - indoor igloo/sleeping space
Many children currently sleep or rest for a period during their time within a setting. With the expansion to 1140 hours, it is likely that instead of the traditional model of early learning and childcare where children attend morning or afternoon sessions, more children may attend for a longer day. Therefore it may be that more children need to rest or sleep. Children should be able to rest or sleep when they need to without being disturbed. In some small playrooms, children can rest or sleep comfortably within the room, but achieving this may be more difficult in larger rooms with more children. When planning space for children to sleep or rest you should consider the needs of individual children.
Cosy space, Lochview Nursery Glasgow
Storyland at Springvale Early Years Centre, Saltcoats creates a quiet area with an interactive floor map
When planning space for babies, consideration needs to be given to what babies need. Babies need to feel safe, happy  , cosy and content  . They need an environment which they can relate to: home-like, calm and comfortable and where they can move freely  . Therefore, it is best practice for babies to have their own identified playroom.
A report from the Sutton Trust reviewed the evidence on the quality of early childhood education and care for children under three years. The report recommends that in order to ensure physical environments are suitable for two years olds, a service should have 'small group sizes appropriate to age/stage, within a calm environment which promotes individual care and attention'  . The report refers to the best-available evidence which suggest there should be no more than 12 children. The research identifies this as best practice and individual settings should consider the impact of the size of groupings on the health, well being, learning and development of young children.
The number of children who will be in one space at any time is important for all early learning and childcare and out of school care settings. Some children can be overwhelmed with large rooms, large number of children and staff and high noise levels. It is important to remember what the environment should feel like to a child and what negative impact this could have on their health, wellbeing, behaviour, ability to play and learn and form relationships with other children and adults. It is beneficial if children have access to both large and small rooms/areas where they can choose to spend time in. The use of partitions in a large space allows the space to be divided. The use of curved walls, rooms with different dimensions, shapes and space to investigate can help the environment to be more aesthetically pleasing to children.
Children at Jaybees Nursery, Lockerbie enjoy crawling from one space to another
Central area in Springvale Early Years Centre, Saltcoats
In Reggio Emilia, Italy, the approach to the environment comprises of connected spaces that flow into one another. Rooms open onto a central piazza and children move freely through the space.
Having a flexible space can be very beneficial. This can be used for a variety of purposes, for staff, parents, community and as another space to be used by the children for example, additional space for indoor active play or to be used to provide meals at lunch time. In Tower view Nursery, Glasgow the flexible space is used for football coaching, dance and games, parents groups, staff training and meetings. The area is also used for the children to have lunch in a separate area to support a positive eating environment.
Children at Roslin Primary School Nursery can use the caterpillar to sit in or to see through to the primary one class to help with transition
The use of space for children attending out of school care service should be used to effectively meet the needs of the children attending. During term time the children have been in school during the day, therefore many are looking to engage in active, physical play after school. Many settings who offer before school care often find children choose to participate in quieter, relaxed activities in preparation for their learning at school.
It is important to listen to children when planning or designing space as children should be leading their learning. We spoke with the school age children who attend Enchanted Forest nursery in Inverkip. They told us it was important to:
- have lots of space
- have opportunities to play outside
- be able to play football and run around
- have a separate space from the 'nursery'
- have a quiet room, an arts and craft and a room for older children
- be able to go outside to play and have a big garden with grass and AstroTurf
- to have fun  .
Hyndland After School Care mezzanine area
Hyndland After School Care
The environment should provide a balance between experiences and opportunities both inside and outside  . For example, the Care Inspectorate note in My World Outdoors  that simply being outside in fresh air is beneficial, but when children are helped to actively explore nature for themselves the dividends for improving outcomes are exponential. If staff help children to develop their own free-flow play activities outdoors they can learn through nature. From this, we can begin to see children flourish. Many children become more confident, co-operative, calm and content. For some it can be transformative. For example, for children experiencing emotional and behavioural problems, or struggling in traditional formal settings, immersion in a natural setting can be therapeutic and helps realise their potential. Education Scotland highlights the effect indoor and outdoor spaces have on maximizing high quality learning  . Outdoor play itself has many benefits for children: it has a positive effect on their health, wellbeing, learning and development and promotes curiosity, inquiry and creativity  . More importantly it gives children the opportunity to have fun outside. Exposure to sunlight is necessary for absorption of vitamin D which is necessary for health and wellbeing  .
The best way to get access to natural light is by spending as much time as possible outside. For example, in Japan and Canada, they have 'sunshine laws' as they have recognised the link between natural light deprivation and depression. A minimum number of hours per day of daylight must be available to occupants of buildings  .
Children at Fenton Barns Nursery, North Berwick enjoy nature
For children in early learning and childcare and out of school care settings this means they should play outside as much as possible. This view is supported by the Scottish Government's Health and Social Care Standards: 'as a child I play outdoors every day and regularly explore a natural environment'.  A suitable, stimulating, challenging and safe outdoor space adjacent to the accommodation enables children to move easily between indoors and outdoors, encouraging independence and providing additional opportunities.
Children at the International School Aberdeen Nursery climb up the grass
Very young children at Enhanced Forest, Robroyston have fun outdoors in an urban setting
All early learning and childcare and out of school care settings should have adjacent, safe and suitable outdoor space. A view which is supported by a recent survey carried out by the Care Inspectorate where:
- 75% parents felt it was 'very important', with 23% finding it 'important'; and
- 91% staff felt it was 'very important', with 7% finding it 'important'  .
Cairellot Nursery, Bishopton very young children can play in their own space or join older children by accessing the other space through the gate
The Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery, Cupar use a yurt as one of their covered areas
Spateston Pre-five Centre, Paisley
With the expansion in early learning and childcare many children will spend longer in settings, therefore it is vitally important they can play outside when they choose to  . Children who attend out of school care settings will have been in indoor school environment most of the day therefore outdoor play may be very important to them. How easy it is for a child to move independently between both depends to a large extent on the design of the environment. Many settings have direct access outside from each playroom, through either a single door or patio style doors.
Accommodation built around the outdoor space can make it easier for children and staff to access the outdoor area. A sheltered area enables children to stay outdoors in wet weather conditions. The sheltered area does not have to be a fixed structure as long as it provides shelter from the elements.
Covered area at Sgoil-àraich Loch Abar/Lochaber Gaelic Nursery
International School Aberdeen Nursery
Jaybees, Lockerbie children enjoy being under the sheltered area
Fenton Barns, North Berwick
Cairellot Nursery, Bishopton
Outdoor space should not make children feel overprotected. However, a risk assessment should be carried out to ensure that the space is safe. The space should offer challenges and encourage children to take more risks, giving them a sense of achievement  ; being outdoors offers children the opportunity to be noisy without disturbing others.
A natural outdoor environment has many benefits to child development, learning and fun. Furthermore, movement itself plays an important part in a child linking this to the natural world:
'The natural world offers perpetual play of sensory action and rhythm, in the movement of earth, air, fire and water - a feast for the sensorimotor apparatus of the human child'  .
Natural outdoor space gives children more opportunity and space to experience nature, to feel the grass under their feet, to plant, dig for worms, experiment with mud, stones, to climb trees and to enjoy getting dirty.
Rothiemay Preschool, Huntly enjoy outdoors play
Rothiemay Preschool, Huntly enjoy outdoors play
Children of Broomhill Out of School Care Glasgow enjoy climbing trees
An environment rich in a mix of surfaces, textures and different
spaces enables children to explore, to spend time with others or
find a quiet space to play or be on their own. A view which is
supported by a recent consultation carried out by with parents in
Orkney. The key elements of outdoor space for parents were:
'A messy garden, gardens that are a bit of an adventure, magical spaces, pathways leading to new spaces, water, natural climbing opportunities, e.g. boulders, trees, chunks of wood, spaces to hide-bushes, hidey holes'  .
In some urban areas providing a natural outdoor environment may be challenging. Providing areas of different surfaces and keeping the surface as natural as possible can help. There is also the opportunity to expand natural outdoor learning and experiences through the use of community space.
- What can children experience in the outdoor space?
- What makes the outdoor space inviting, enjoyable and exciting to children?
- How can children move from between both spaces independently? What things would stop them doing this or be a risk?
- How natural is the outdoor space? Is there grass, trees, flowers, areas for digging and planting, water, soil, mud?
- What space is there for children to be creative?
- Where would a child have space to be on their own?
- How safe is the area?
- What areas are challenging and create an element of risk for a child?
Spateston Pre-Five Centre, Paisley
Children at Spateston Pre-five Centre, Paisley can experience natural outdoor play in an urban setting
Children at Kelvinside Academy Nursery, Glasgow can experience natural outdoor play in an urban setting
Kelvinside Academy Nursery, Glasgow
Children at Fas More, Skye enjoy their outdoor space
The Care Inspectorate has facilitated the development of outdoor and forest settings over a period of time. While not all settings can provide solely outdoor provision, there are opportunities to provide a blended approach of outdoor and indoor learning and care in many settings. Already, there are some existing early learning and childcare settings where account has been taken of the quality and children's use of outdoor space and the number of registered places has been increased in acknowledgement of the positive experiences children have.
Through discussions with providers, local authorities, the Association of Directors of Education ( ADES) and early learning and childcare networks, it was apparent that many providers plan to consider the use of outdoor space when expanding their service. This is based on: recognition of the importance of outdoor experiences, children's increased use of suitable outdoor areas and improvements to the quality and accessibility of outdoor space. It is the view of the Care Inspectorate, The Scottish Government and Scottish Futures Trust that the following additional guidance will support the provision of indoor/outdoor settings.
There is no agreed standard for the provision of outdoor space. For expansion planning purposes, providers and planners have requested the Scottish Government provide some parameters on the outdoor space to support registration of an increased number of children within an indoor/outdoor setting. It is therefore recommended that a maximum increase of 20% of the total registered number of children is considered as a guideline. This would of course be dependent on the suitability of the outdoor space and plans for how it would be used. The quality of children's experiences and outcomes are and will remain of paramount importance in terms of the use of outdoor space.
If a setting wishes to maximise the outdoor space to increase the number of children, the following elements should be considered to support the provision of indoor/outdoor settings:
- Do the aims and objectives of your service clearly reflect both indoor and outdoor experiences?
- Have parents been be involved and consulted in the development of the service to enable staff to share the positive effects on health and wellbeing of children of being outdoors?
- Have children been consulted and supported to provide ideas for the environment?
- Do you have a comprehensive proposal on how the outdoor space will be used every day?
- Have you given careful consideration to the opportunities and experiences that will be available outside to compliment indoors experiences?
- Do the staff team understand the value and ethos of outdoor learning?
- Are staff motivated and enthusiastic and do they have appropriate training to provide children with a range of learning experiences both indoors and outdoors?
- How can the outdoor space be directly accessed from the playroom?
- Are children able to go outside independently when they choose to?
- Will staff be suitably deployed to enable children to use both indoor and outdoor space?
- Is the outdoor area as natural as possible, offering a range of different surfaces, a stimulating environment which promotes challenges and provides elements of risk for children to manage?
- Is there a suitable sheltered area to enable children to access outdoor space in all weathers either fixed or of a temporary nature?
- Is there a variety of different areas to allow children to have quiet time, have space to play alone, with small or large groups?
- Are resources suitable to an outdoor learning environment and to encourage active play?
- Is there easy access to toilets, hand hygiene and to changing facilities where changing facilities are appropriate?
- Is there appropriate outdoor clothing and footwear which is easily accessible to children and staff?
- Is there suitable storage including storage of used outdoor clothing and footwear?
Cowie Nursery, Stirling
Fenton Barns Nursery, North Berwick
Pen Green, Corby access to the outdoor space through a tunnel
- How does or could the indoor and outdoor space meet the needs of individual children?
- Does the space help children to form attachments to individual adults who are their main caregiver?
- Does the space help children to form attachments to other children?
- What space is there for children who are learning to walk or crawl?
- How do you think the space feels to a child? Would they be overwhelmed by the size? Would they feel cosy, content and safe? Is it too noisy?
- Where would a child go to have some quiet time or space on their own?
- What space is there for children to run around and take part in physical activities?
- How does the space support children's learning and development, health and wellbeing?
- How do you feel as an adult in this environment?
Space to Eat
Provision of food is an integral part of a care and learning environment. When children have a positive experience of eating and drinking in an early learning and childcare service, it will help them to develop an appreciation that eating can be an enjoyable activity, and understand the role of food within social and cultural contexts on long term health benefits. 
Children should have suitable space to have food and drinks. With the expansion in early learning and childcare more children may have lunch within the service. Therefore, providers may need to look at the space available for meals or snacks and consider where improvements could enhance the child's experience. Opportunities should be available for children to help prepare meals and snacks  . Space for children to eat should be relaxed, quiet and peaceful and allow for children and staff to sit together  . Children often take longer to eat than adults, particularly babies and toddlers, as they try to be independent and feed themselves. Similarly children can get restless if mealtimes take too long. Therefore, mealtime should take as long as a child needs, as stated in Health and Social Care Standards: 'I can enjoy unhurried snacks and meal time in as relaxed an atmosphere as possible'.  In the first year of life, babies follow individual feeding patterns which can change regularly  . Therefore, the space for babies at mealtimes should be adaptable to meet their individual needs. In small settings it may be appropriate to use the playroom for mealtimes.
Headstart Nursery, Glasgow
KM Kindergarten and Nursery, Japan
Photograph - Bauhaus/Ryuji Inoue
In other circumstances a separate lunch space may be provided or a setting may consider a combination of both. Children should be involved in making and preparing their meals and snacks where appropriate. Many settings also encourage children to grow and prepare food. This is consistent with the Health and Social Care Standards; 'If appropriate, I can choose to make my own meals, snacks and drinks, with support if I need it, and can choose to grow, cook and eat my own food where possible'. 
Children should always have access to fresh water to keep them hydrated  . Settings should consider how children can easily access water. A supply of wholesome water is a requirement within premises where members of the public have access to drinking water. Water supplies in early learning and childcare settings need to meet this requirement. Lead can make drinking water unwholesome. Exposure to significant quantities of lead can be especially harmful to the health of unborn babies and young children due to their immaturity and still developing brain, other organs and nervous systems. It is therefore important that settings are provided in premises where there are no lead pipes or lead storage tanks in the water supply route to drinking water points or kitchen areas where food or drinks may be prepared.
Where a building warrant for change of use of premises is being sought, a water sample for lead should be taken. Scottish Water should be contacted to organise a water sample from the premises if it is connected to the public water mains. If the premises are on a private water supply then you should arrange to have a sample taken of the water by contacting the Environmental Health Department at your Local Council  .
- What arrangements have been put in place to make the environment suitable for eating?
- Is there enough space to allow children to take time to have meals?
- Is the water supply suitable?
Staff, Parents and the Community
- Importance of staff spaces
- The benefits of space for parents, children and the community
Staff should be able to take breaks away from the children. There must be space where staff can safely store their personal belongings and where they can meet others  . Staff rooms should be a suitable size to accommodate the number of staff. Staff areas can also be used for staff to plan, review literature and for the storage of staff resources. A staff room or resource area or training room allows for this space to be used flexibly for other activities when available.
There should be an area/office for administrative work and for the storage of confidential records. Administrative space visible from the entry point helps to create a friendly atmosphere a point of contact for parents together with an additional means of operating a secure entrance.
A separate room or office for management is best practice as it provides a space where staff and parents can speak confidentially outside administrative hours. The location of this room should provide a balance between accessibility and confidentially to parents, children and staff.
Parents and the community
Settings should be designed to attract children and families, to encourage parents not only to use the service for their child but for them to be involved, enjoy, and benefit from the wider community.
Parents should be encouraged to spend time in playrooms and should be welcomed into the setting which enhances communication with staff. It is also very beneficial to have other facilities for parents for example a parents room. A 'parents room' enables parents to meet informally, provides space for parents when settling children, helps parents support one another and provides space for interest groups and training. Space for parents and encouragement for them to spend time in the service supports parental participation and helps parents to feel a valued part of the service. Good parental partnership enable staff to work with parents out with the playroom and support them engage with others.
Space which can be used by visiting settings, such as Health Visitors, Social Work and, Speech and Language Specialists can be extremely beneficial to families. Sometimes it makes it easier for families to access these services as it brings the service to them in an environment that the child and family are comfortable in. It also allows for effective, collaborative working between parents, staff and children and other agencies.
Parents at Springvale Early Years Centre, Saltcoats benefit from a parents room
- Where will parents and staff have confidential discussions?
- Can the staff area be used for all staff and is it comfortable, suitable space for lunch/breaks?
- Where will staff training/meetings take place? Is the space suitable?
- Where is the office situated? Does this allow for those in the office to be visible to staff/children and parents?
- How inviting is the space for parents? Does it encourage parents to take part in other activities within the service?
- Where would external agencies meet families within the service? Is this space suitable?
Heating, Ventilation, Lighting, Noise and Sustainability
- Impact of noise
As a minimum requirement there must be adequate and suitable
heating, ventilation and light
and reference should be made to Building Standards
. The Health and Social Care Standards state:
'My environment has plenty of natural light and fresh air and the lighting, ventilation and heating can be adjusted to meet my needs and wishes'  .
The environment for early learning and childcare and out of school care settings should be a comfortable temperature for children.
The safety of heating appliances is an important consideration in the prevention of accidents. Safety is the responsibility of the provider and is a matter for them to risk assess. To reduce the risk, you may want to consider cool to touch radiators or under floor heating. Heating controls which are accessible to staff allow them to adjust the temperature to support children feel comfortable.
When moving to new premises the children from Garthamlock Nursery were asked about their new environment. They told staff what they knew about under floor heating:
'We've not to touch the pipes. They are warm', 'The floor will be laid on top of the pipes', 'The pipes will heat up the floor', 'Then we will be nice and toasty.' 
The ventilation should be suitable to the specific area. Fresh air should be available in all main rooms used by children  . Studies into the impact of building design on children with autism spectrum disorder suggest that good natural ventilation should be a key feature of settings  . One of the best ways of providing natural ventilation is by opening windows which allows natural air to circulate. This helps to create a healthier, homely, comfortable environment and enables staff to control the level of ventilation. In general, research indicates that there is a link between natural ventilation and health outcomes  . Natural ventilation is also an effective measure to control infection  .
Natural light should be within the playrooms used by children. Natural light should be in as many areas as possible throughout the premises. As a minimum standard, natural light should be within the playrooms used by children. All opportunities for maximising natural light should be taken.
Natural light affects psychological wellbeing in terms of mood, security and behaviour. Having good natural light in a premise has been recognised as being beneficial to children with autism spectrum disorder. Research tells us that fluorescent lighting can affect the vision field of some people with autism spectrum disorder  . Therefore, think carefully about the type of artificial lighting used. Natural light is not only beneficial to the wellbeing of children but also to staff. Artificial and natural light should be used flexibly to suit the use of the specific space  .
Windows are the second most effective way of ensuring access to natural light, the first being access to outdoors. To help children feel less confined indoors they should be able to see out of windows. Research tells us parents view windows as an important aspect of the environment. A survey conducted by the Care Inspectorate found that 63% parents felt it was 'very important' that windows were available for children to see out; with 30% stating it was 'important'  .
'The spirit of a place depends more on the presence of natural light than perhaps any other factor'  .
Windows help to make for a more homely environment. Consideration could be given to how the use of floor to ceiling windows or fully glazed doors can be used to increase the amount of natural light and to enable children to see outside. Where windows are not at eye level, improvements can be made to help children see out outside. To help both babies  and children develop and also to learn about the world outside, the view from the window should be interesting. Blinds or suitable covers for windows will help to shade the room from direct sunlight and help keep the temperature comfortable.
Children at Enchanted Forest, Inverkip use the steps to look out the window
In Arcadia Nursery, Edinburgh children enjoy lying on the mezzanine area looking into the sky
You may want to consider using roof windows or light tubes to increase the level of natural light within a room. This can make the area more interesting by creating glimpses of the sky or making interesting patterns of light. Some providers have made very good use of roof windows alongside the use of a mezzanine area to bring children closer to the sky.
In the Fuji Kindergarten Japan, there is at least one roof window or skylight into each indoor area  . In this service children can play on the roof, and this allows them to look inside the rooms along with creating additional natural light.
- Consider how the temperature of the environment would feel to a child?
- What measures have been put in place to reduce the risk from heating appliances?
- How do you ensure the safety of windows?
- What measures have been taken to maximise natural light and natural ventilation?
- What impact could the type of artificial light used have on a child?
- Are windows at a level that children can see out of? If not what improvements can be done to achieve this?
The environment should be free from avoidable and intrusive noise  . This applies to the internal noise and noise from external sources. The design of the environment is an important factor of controlling the impact of noise  . Sound can either support or interfere with what is happening within any environment. Some sounds are an important source of familiarisation or security for children. Many children can find unusual sounds or extreme quiet to be upsetting  .
Research tells us that for people with autistic spectrum disorder noise can create confusion and fear:
"Auditory and tactile input often overwhelmed me. Loud noise hurt my ears. When noise and sensory stimulation became too intense, I was able to shut off my hearing and retreat into my own world" 
One important task for children is learning to focus on what is relevant and ignore what isn't. Some research shows how the presence of noise can have a detrimental effect on young children when they are attempting to learn new words. Children will rarely be in a completely quiet environment, but reducing noise levels can help children learn even when there is background noise  .
Eastwood High School, Newton Mearns use acoustic cubes to reduce noise
The height of the ceiling and the acoustics are important when designing an environment for children as this can present problems in respect of noise  . Measures can be put in place to reduce noise levels within an environment. The use of acoustic panels can reduce noise levels.
'Settings should create a harmonious and pleasing acoustic environment and control, absorb or dissipate unwanted noise'  .
Cookfur Nursery Class use acoustic clouds to reduce noise
- What sounds would be familiar and help children feel secure?
- What noise would be likely to impact on child's concentration?
- Could the level of noise be frightening to a child?
- What is balance of sound between familiar noise and unwanted noise?
- If staff find the noise too loud, consider the impact this could have on a young child?
- What measures have been put in place to reduce noise where the ceiling is high?
Sustainable development is defined as:
"Development that meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" 
The Scottish Government is committed to sustainable development in schools. In 2013, the Government accepted all 31 recommendations of the Ministerial Advisory Group's 'Learning for Sustainability Report.  ' Education Scotland holds sustainable development as an educational priority,  concluding that it contributes to raising attainment and achievement. 
"Every school should have a whole school approach to learning for sustainability that is robust, demonstrable, evaluated and supported by leadership at all levels."
This applies in equal measure to an early learning and childcare service as it does to primary or secondary school.
It is imperative that any new education establishment, including early learning and childcare settings or any extensions, incorporates sustainable development from the beginning of the design phase:
Sustainability needs to become a core aspect of planning, design, development and management of schools and changes to them. In addition, 'greener' schools, in themselves, are a powerful learning and teaching tool. 
A majority of early learning and childcare and out of school care settings have already embraced sustainable design and development and have been awarded the Eco Schools Green Flag. 
The Scottish Government publication offers advice on what sustainable development means to them, as well as the process of delivering a well-designed, sustainable building.  What is clear is that all sustainable solutions must be factored in at the design stage and then revisited at each stage of the process for them to be effective. This is in order to ensure that the clear vision for sustainability that needs to be established at the outset is carried through the entire design, construction and operational phases. 
'When choosing materials for building based settings there is a dual role to protect children from harmful toxins and to protect the environment from further depletion of natural resources.' 
The Rocking Horse Nursery, Aberdeen, is the first 'Passive House' nursery in Scotland. Passive House buildings are designed with quality components, high levels of insulation, and systems to recycle heat and circulate fresh air around the building. Passive buildings are extremely energy efficient, requiring significantly lower levels of energy for space heating than regular buildings.
Rocking Horse nursery, Aberdeen ( BMJ Architects)
- What building materials provide a sustainable solution and encourage sustainable learning?
- Will the sustainable solution be easily implemented during the operations phase to ensure the sustainable design benefits can be realised?
- Importance of hand hygiene procedures
There should be proper provision for hand washing within the service. Hand hygiene is widely acknowledged as the most effective way of preventing and controlling avoidable infections  . Hand washing must be carried out at appropriate times, using the correct facilities, suitable products and the correct procedures  . This section relates to the facilities for hand washing. Other guidance is available about products and procedures  . Children should be encouraged to learn about hand hygiene. Good hand hygiene should always be promoted. As well as preventing infection, hand washing is an important part of healthy living for children and can be fun. Hand washbasins should be available in:
- food preparation areas;
- toilets; and
- nappy changing areas;
It is not expected that there is a hand washbasin in playrooms for school age children ( i.e. out of school care settings) unless providers wish to make this available. However children and staff must have access to hand washbasins nearby the playroom.
Guidance on hand washbasins in relation to food preparation is available under the section Kitchen and Food Preparation.
Children enjoying hand washing
Hand washbasins should only ever be used for hand washing and not for any other purpose. Hand washbasins and taps should be able to be operated by children and the temperature of the water should be thermostatically controlled. The hand washbasins should be of a suitable size and height for children and staff. Best practice would be to have two hand washbasins within each playroom, one at a height suitable for adults and one at a height suitable for children.
However, where this is not possible, one hand washbasin would support hand washing. Where the hand wash basin is at an adult height, a suitable step would support children to use it. Where the hand wash basin is at a child's height, consideration should be given to staff health issues.
Beginning information on hand washing facilities in staff toilets is part of building standards  .
- Where is the most suitable place to install washbasins?
- How accessible are washbasins to both children and staff?
- Is there a washbasin in all of the areas there should be?
- Importance of suitability of children's toilets
- Number of toilets
- Intervening ventilated space
- Staff toilets
It is important for children to feel safe and comfortable when going to the toilet. The toilet facilities should be well ventilated,  suitably heated and be in a place which is within easy reach of children to promote their independence.  Providing children with clean, suitable, safe toilets they can access easily is essential for ensuring children develop good bladder and bowel health habits throughout their life  .
Some continence problems children experience can be as a result of their reluctant to using toilets. A delay in attaining continence in childhood can lead to bladder dysfunction or bowel problems in later life  .
The British Standard for toilets for 'nursery (aged three to five years)' is one w.c. per 10 children or part thereof, not less than four  . This is interpreted as, for example, where a service is registered for 34 children, three toilets would be sufficient. Where a service is registered for 35 children, four toilets should be provided. Although the British Standard relates specifically to children aged three to five, this standard would also be applied to children aged two years and in out of school care settings. Many children aged two years may be in nappies, therefore suitable changing facilities should also be available. The changing facility would be counted in the number of w.c's. For example, where a service is provided to 40 children aged two years to those not attending school, three w.c's and one changing facility would be suitable. Where the service is small e.g. 10 children aged two years to those not attending school, one w.c. and one changing facility should be provided. However providers my wish to have additional facilities as appropriate.  Within the toilets one hand washbasin should be available for every 10 children. 
Children at Kelvinside Academy Nursery have a toilet they can access easily when outdoors
Children's privacy and dignity should be respected when using toilets. Dignity and respect are central principles of the Health and Social Care Standards  . Each w.c. should be contained within its own individual compartment. Full height doors on cubicles and locks on doors are not recommended for early learning and childcare settings as many young children need assistance from staff. Separate boys and girls toilets are not necessary for early learning and childcare settings. However, school age children should have separate toilets, unless the environment they are based in has purpose built communal facilities or the w.c. and hand washbasin is provided within an individual room.
Where school age children share the environment with younger children both age groups, it is best practice for them to have separate toilet facilities. Where an early learning and childcare settings has a small number of children and is based within a small primary school, it may be reasonable for children to share toilets with school children where suitable toilets facilities are available.
It is best practice for sanitary facilities to be of a suitable size for those using them. Small children need child sized toilets so that they can sit comfortably and children's feet should touch the ground when using the toilet  . Smaller fixtures enhance independence which is particularly important in an early learning and childcare service. The National Resource Centre for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education suggests that using a full size toilet for small children without supervision is not recommended due to the size of the toilet in comparison to the size of the child  . Where an early learning and childcare setting may have a larger w.c. an inset seat and step should be used. When using a larger sized w.c. with an inset seat, consideration needs to be given to the width of a standard toilet seat. Many settings do not encourage the use of potties, therefore a child who is being toilet trained will use the toilet. Guidance on potty training refers to the disadvantages of an adult sized toilet as large and intimidating for some small children  .
Where urinals are available for school age children these would be counted in the ratio of w.c's. However a w.c. must also be available, for privacy.
In indoor/outdoor settings, suitable outdoor toilet facilities may make it easier for children and may help promote independence. These can be included in the ratio of children's toilets.
Accessible toilet facilities may be included in the ratio of children's w.c.'s where appropriate, e.g. when they are not used by members of the public and not included in the ratio of staff toilets.
To meet food hygiene regulations, sanitary accommodation should not open directly on to any room or space used wholly or partly for the preparation or consumption of food on a commercial basis. This is most commonly addressed by providing an intervening, ventilated space between a toilet and the playroom.  It is important to liaise early with the local environmental health department for advice regarding this. The three diagrams opposite and on the next page, illustrate options for consideration.
Early Years Design Guide Toilet Options - 1
Early Years Design Guide Toilet Options - 2
Early Years Design Guide Toilet Options - 3
- If you were a child, would you be comfortable using the toilet facilities?
- Is the height and size of toilets and wash hand basins suitable for all of the children attending the service?
- What measures have been taken to respect privacy and dignity?
- How easy is it for children to access the toilets independently?
- Where young children need the assistance of staff how easy is it for this to happen?
- How does the position of where the toilets are situated meet with food safety regulations?
Staff toilets should not be shared with children and should not be counted when considering the overall number of toilets available for children. All toilet facilities for staff should be provided in accordance with building regulations  , health and safety and work regulations  , food safety regulations  and the Equality Act (2010)  . Building standards apply to new or converted buildings, to extensions or alterations to buildings which have toilet facilities.
- How do the toilet facilities for staff comply with the relevant regulations?
- What account has been taken of the equality act particularly in terms of accessible facilities?
- What measures have been taken to make the toilets comfortable and safe?
- Supporting personal care
- Supporting continence
- Protecting against infection
Settings which provide care to children in nappies or who require assistance with continence aids must have appropriate facilities for nappy changing and personal care. The facilities must provide children with a suitable, safe, clean environment and appropriate equipment.  When changing children their privacy  and dignity  must be respected.
In 2006 and 2012, E.coli 0157 outbreaks in Scottish nurseries resulting in serious infections in children and staff were reported. Outcomes of the infections may have serious and long-term effects for those affected. One method of spreading E.coli 0157 and many other types of gastro-intestinal infections can be attributed to failures in the provision of appropriate nappy changing/personal care facilities; this includes the provision of hand washing sinks and associated practices. Children under the age of three are particularly susceptible to infection. Evidence from outbreak situations, notifications to the Care Inspectorate regarding incidences of infection, and evidence from research highlights this. The Care Inspectorate has developed a guidance document to provide advice and to support improvement in relation to nappy changing.  The guidance describes suitable changing facilities for children and differentiates between facilities for children aged under two years and for those over two years.
- How is the privacy and dignity of children respected?
- How would the area look and feel to a child? Is it warm, comfortable, pleasant, spacious?
- Is there enough space for adults and children to move around?
- What facilities are there to support good infection control procedures?
- What measures have been taken to ensure the changing area is consistent with the nappy changing guidance?
Kitchen and Food Preparation
An early learning and childcare service or out of school care setting providing food, including snacks for children is likely to be considered a food business by Environmental Health.
Food Safety is regulated in all care settings by the local authority Environmental Health department. The provider will need to comply with the requirements of the Food Hygiene (Scotland) Regulations 2006  and other supporting legislation.
Early learning and childcare and out of school care settings offer snacks with many providing facilities for children to have lunch/meals. Provision for meals can include food cooked on the premises, the use of outside caterers or where children bring a packed lunch.
A setting that provides breakfast cereals and snacks could be adequately furnished by a preparation area or kitchenette type arrangement contained within the playroom. This would mainly relate to out of school care settings and some early learning and childcare settings where there is very limited food preparation. This can be useful where children help prepare food usually for snack. Many providers do this by installing a half wall partition. A wall or controlled access partition would not be required where cold/ambient foods are prepared only.
A kitchenette would also be a suitable arrangement where cooked lunches are to be brought to the settings by another caterer and "plated out".
A setting which intends to cater beyond this level may require a kitchen physically separate from the playroom. The size of the kitchen should be appropriate to the amount of equipment and the volume of food to be cooked and prepared. Suitable storage facilities should be available for food, kitchen utensils, cooking equipment, cutlery and crockery.
The design and structural requirements for food provision in a setting are determined to an extent by the level of food provision, Environmental Health can provide support and guidance on this.
Hand hygiene is very important. Each kitchen or kitchenette/food preparation area must have at least one wash hand sink for food handlers to wash their hands. Wash hand sinks for cleaning hands must have taps which provide hot and cold running water (or mixer water at a comfortable temperature). A kitchen where cooking takes place and high risk food is prepared must have separate sinks for washing food and for cleaning food equipment and utensils. The wash up sinks must have a tap or taps supplying hot and cold water. The food washing sink must have a cold water supply as minimum.  It is best practice for the taps on food preparation sinks to be non-hand operated taps (lever or automatic).
A kitchenette where only low risk foods are prepared or where ready to eat food comes from another provider must have, as a minimum, a single or double drainer sink. This can be used for food preparation ( e.g. washing vegetables and fruit) and washing dishes, providing proper cleaning of the sink takes place between these uses. This sink must have a tap or taps supplying hot and cold running water. Where space permits a dishwashing machine is a very useful addition.
Where high risk food is brought to the setting there must be sufficient refrigerated storage to keep the food at a safe temperature. A food temperature of 8°C or below is effective in controlling the multiplication of most bacteria in perishable food. It is recommended practice to operate refrigerators and chills at 5°C or below.
Some parents prefer to supply food, usually in the form of a packed lunch. For advice regarding storage contact Environmental Health.
Examples of high risk food would be foods which are ready to eat, do not need any further cooking, and provide a place for bacteria to live, grow and thrive e.g. cooked meat and fish, gravy, stock, sauces and soup.
For a kitchenette a single under counter refrigerator or an upright fridge-freezer may be sufficient storage space. For a kitchen cooking and preparing meals there must be sufficient refrigerator and freezer storage for all of the food that must be kept temperature controlled. All food must be stored appropriately to reduce the risk of food borne illness.  In Scotland, there are no prescribed temperatures for refrigerators; however it is best practice to store food in refrigerators between 1°C and 4°C. 
Appropriate facilities should be available where formula milk is prepared or breast milk stored.  Two sinks are required in any areas where formula milk is prepared, one for hand washing and one for cleaning. 
The following are general requirements which apply to kitchens and kitchenettes:
- Kitchens and kitchenettes must be adequately lit and ventilated.
- Windows and any other openings must be constructed in a way that prevents dirt from building up
- Windows and any other openings (such as doors) that are likely to be opened to the outside must be fitted with insect-proof screens that can be easily removed for cleaning.
- Doors must be easy to clean and, where necessary, to disinfect.
- Where cooking takes place the installation of extract ventilation will be required.
The floors and walls should be made from materials which are smooth, hard-wearing, washable and in a good condition. They must be easy to clean and, if necessary, disinfect. Bare wood is not acceptable. Floors should be covered with a material which reduces the risk of slipping when contaminated or wet.
Ceilings must be in good condition, smooth and easy to clean, with no flaking paint or plaster. The finish must prevent dirt from building up and reduce condensation, mould and shedding of particles.
Kitchen cupboards and worktops must be made from materials which are easy to clean and where necessary disinfect. All items, fittings and equipment that come into contact with food must be kept in good order, repair and condition. 
- Does the service need to be registered as a food business?
- Have you contacted your local environmental health department about your arrangements for providing food?
- What food is provided and does this require the service to be registered as a food business?
- How suitable is the kitchen, kitchenette/preparation area?
- What arrangements are in place to prepare and store food? Are these suitable?
- What are the facilities for those who handle food to wash their hands? Are these suitable?
- Where a washing machine is within the food preparation area is this used for non-soiled items only?
Laundry and Utility Provision
- Suitable laundry space
- Suitable utility provision
Settings will generate a certain amount of laundry. Providers may choose to launder their own linen or send them to an external laundry. The main concern in relation to laundry relates to infection control. Dirty and especially soiled (faecally contaminated) linen and clothing can be sources of cross-infection. Sending dirty and soiled children's clothing home for parents to wash is recommended practice.
Where a provider launder items, (including soiled items) washing machines and driers should be provided and located in a dedicated room away from the playroom and the kitchen. The room should not be accessible to children. The room should be well ventilated, with space to store clean laundry and to deal separately with soiled laundry. Fresh, clean linen should be stored in a dry area separate from any used linen.  The room should have hand washing facilities.  It would be good practice to also have a utility sink. A washing machine can be located in a kitchen, kitchenette/food preparation area as long as the washing machine is for laundering non-soiled materials. Soiled (faecally contaminated) clothing should never enter an area where food is prepared.
A secure room/cupboard should be available to store cleaning and disinfecting chemicals and equipment with enough storage and shelving to enable safe, hygienic storage of equipment. A utility sink should be available to dispose of waste and for environmental cleaning activities ( e.g. emptying dirty water from mop buckets, cleaning mop buckets). Many settings have this within a utility room which is also used to stored cleaning items. A utility sink can also be used for general purposes for example, for washing paints. Sinks for hand washing cannot be used for the purpose of cleaning of utility items and must only be used for hand washing. 
- What laundry and utility facilities are available? Are they suitable?
- What measures have been taken to reduce the risk of cross infection?
- Where is the laundry and utility facility situated? Are they accessible to the children?
- Who will carry out laundry duties and cleaning duties? Is there designated laundry and cleaning staff?
- How accessible is the general purpose utility sink?
- Suitable storage arrangements
Storage arrangements should be suitable for the purpose of the items being stored. Storage should be available for play equipment/resources, including large equipment, prams, bedding, kitchen utensils and food, towels, linen and personal care items. It is important that space is available for walking aids or any other aids children require. Any large items which may be used outdoors should be suitable of being stored in inclement weather. It can be helpful if the storage space for these items is outside. Suitable, lockable storage should be available for medication, where appropriate  .
Appropriate storage should be available for outdoor clothes. Children should be able to access these easily, however consideration should be given to the storage and drying of these items when not being used by children. Some providers have found the use of a 'boot room' to be beneficial. In Cairellot Nursery Bishopton, the boot room is beside the door and in Kelvinside Academy Nursery, Glasgow the boot storage is under the sheltered area.
Cairellot Nursery, Bishopton outdoor clothes storage
Kelvinside Academy Nursery, Glasgow outdoor boot storage
A buggy store is extremely helpful to parents. Buggy stores should be carefully planned. If the area is outside it should be secure but accessible to parents. A covered area will provide shelter as a protection from the elements. If inside, the area should not be near the main entrance or near where parents and children may be gathering as this would cause congestion and may be a fire risk.
Buggy store, Moorpark Pre-five Centre, Renfrew
- How accessible is the storage area for staff?
- How easy is it for children to access outdoor weather clothes?
- How suitable is space for the items being stored?
- What arrangements are in place for items that require to be locked away?
- Where can parents safely leave buggies?
Email: Jeff Maguire, email@example.com
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House