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Publication - Report

Updating of the School Premises (General Requirements and Standards)(Scotland) Regulations 1967: consultation response analysis

Published: 26 Feb 2018
Part of:
Education
ISBN:
9781788516297

Analysis of responses from the consultation on Updating the School Premises Regulations (General Requirements and Standards)(Scotland) Regulations 1967.

64 page PDF

3.9MB

64 page PDF

3.9MB

Contents
Updating of the School Premises (General Requirements and Standards)(Scotland) Regulations 1967: consultation response analysis
Regulations which we proposed to retain unchanged

64 page PDF

3.9MB

Regulations which we proposed to retain unchanged

Question 1 – Educational accommodation in schools providing both primary and secondary education – Do you agree this Regulation should be retained unchanged? If not, why not?

Table 2: Question 1 – Responses by type of respondent.

Type of respondent Yes No Not answered Total
Organisations:
Buildings and Infrastructure 1 1 1 3
Early Years Organisations 1 1 2
Equalities or Disabilities 1 3 4
Food and Catering 1 1
Independent Schools 3 3
Inspection, Regulatory and Advocacy 2 2
Land and Greenspace 4 1 5
Local Authority 11 4 15
Professional Body 1 1
Sports and Leisure 1 1
Trade Union 2 2
Youth Work Organisations 1 1
Total organisations 23 5 12 40
% of organisations answering 82% 18% 100%
Individuals 20 1 16 37
% of individuals answering 95% 5% 100%
All respondents 43 6 28 77
% of all respondents 56% 8% 36% 100%
% of all those answering 88% 12% 100%

A large majority of respondents, 88% of those answering the question, agreed that Regulation should be retained for educational accommodation in schools providing both primary and secondary education. Individual respondents were more likely to agree than those from organisations (95% and 82% respectively).

Of those respondents who answered Question 1, 7 went on to make further comments.

The significant majority who provided comment felt that the Regulation should be retained and raised no further issues. A local authority respondent noted that it would be beneficial to provide further definition on how shared primary and secondary space might be treated to ensure equality of access and that the differing needs of the children would be met.

Those who did not agree that the Regulation should remain unchanged were from across a range of respondent groups; 1 in 3 local authorities felt some change was necessary.

Key themes identified were:

  • Approval by Scottish Ministers provides no guidance as to expectations. There is a need for guidance to outline minimum standards in the form of area accommodation metrics. Guidance on accommodation requirements in ‘all through’ schools would also be preferable to requiring ministerial approval.
  • Decisions regarding educational accommodation in schools should be made by the local authority who are best placed to make local decisions based on local situations.

Question 2 – Educational accommodation in Special Schools. Do you agree this Regulation should be retained unchanged? If not, why not?

Table 3: Question 2 – Responses by type of respondent.

Type of respondent Yes No Not answered Total
Organisations:
Buildings and Infrastructure 1 1 1 3
Early Years Organisations 1 1 2
Equalities or Disabilities 1 3 4
Food and Catering 1 1
Independent Schools 3 3
Inspection, Regulatory and Advocacy 2 2
Land and Greenspace 4 1 5
Local Authority 11 3 1 15
Professional Body 1 1
Sports and Leisure 1 1
Trade Union 2 2
Youth Work Organisations 1 1
Total organisations 23 4 13 40
% of organisations answering 85% 15% 100%
Individuals 20 2 15 37
% of individuals answering 91% 9% 100%
All respondents 43 6 28 77
% of all respondents 56% 8% 36% 100%
% of all those answering 88% 12% 100%

A large majority of respondents, 88% of those answering the question, agreed that Regulation should remain unchanged for educational accommodation in special schools’. Individual respondents were more likely to agree than those from organisations (91% and 85% respectively).

Of those respondents who answered Question 2, 6 went on to make further comments.

Those who were in agreement with the Regulation remaining unchanged, offered minimum comment to support their views; but where this was the case it was asserted that special schools should be seen as notably different from mainstream schools and that as such each will require individual consideration.

The majority of comments were provided by those who were not in agreement.

A number of local authorities stated that they held sufficient expertise to determine specialist provision locally and that it would be most preferable for them to do so. There was seen to be potential to involve Education Scotland in any design process as is the practice in Nursery provision with the Care Inspectorate. Supplementary guidance offering minimum standards in the form of area accommodation metrics would be both beneficial and empower local authorities to undertake this role. It was noted that a statutory consultation under the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 would be required in the event of developing any new or extended provision.

It was noted that the clear majority of Additional Support Need ( ASN) provision is now in mainstream schools and that the educational accommodation needs in special schools should not be vastly different. The consultation mentions the requirement for additional facilities such as sensory pools, outdoor learning or social spaces, but respondents who provided comment felt that this should be part of the usual planning for truly inclusive mainstream schools. Special schools were in fact defined in section 29 (1) of the Education (Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 as a school, or any class or other unit forming part of a mainstream school. To this end, one set of Regulations were deemed sufficient to ensure that facilities were both inclusive and accessible for all pupils throughout the school.

A final individual respondent stated the view that it was not appropriate to assume that classroom sizes will be larger. Whilst the teacher: pupil ratio may well be greater, there is no evidence that this would lead to larger teaching areas. They expressed that the converse is likely to be true, as many ASN provisions only work effectively when the number of children in each teaching area is small.

Question 3 - Outdoor Education and Recreational Areas. Do you agree that this Regulation adequately covers the requirements for outdoor educational and recreational areas? If not, why not?

Table 4: Question 3 – Responses by type of respondent.

Type of respondent Yes No Not answered Total
Organisations: 1 1 1 3
Buildings and Infrastructure 1 1 2
Early Years Organisations 1 1 2 4
Equalities or Disabilities 1 1
Food and Catering 3 3
Independent Schools 2 2
Inspection, Regulatory and Advocacy 2 3 5
Land and Greenspace 11 4 15
Local Authority 1 1
Professional Body 1 1
Sports and Leisure 1 1 2
Trade Union 1 1
Youth Work Organisations 21 11 8 40
Total organisations 66% 34% 100%
% of organisations answering 1 1 1 3
Individuals 16 9 12 37
% of individuals answering 64% 36% 100%
All respondents 37 20 20 77
% of all respondents 48% 26% 26% 100%
% of all those answering 65% 35% 100%

A majority of respondents, 65% of those answering the question, agreed that this Regulation adequately covers the requirements for outdoor educational and recreational areas. Individual respondents were almost as likely to agree as those from organisations (64% and 66% respectively).

Of those respondents who answered Question 3, 23 went on to make further comments.

Those respondents who agreed that the Regulation adequately covers the requirements for outdoor educational and recreational areas did so whilst raising a number of issues for consideration. The majority of comments were made by local authority, land and greenspace organisations and individual respondents:

  • It was felt that further guidance on practice would be beneficial and that potentially this could be found within the Building Bulletins.
  • In recognition of the national and local authority strategies on promoting outdoor learning, provision for outdoor space should be considered in addition to playing fields to deliver the best outcomes for children and young people.
  • To improve the availability and quality of outdoor provision it should be part of the school estate and should not be secondary to the building.
  • The current definition of ‘laid out and surfaced’ spaces in the Regulations should be revisited to be cognisant of the Learning for Sustainability Vision 2030+ which states the need for every learner to have the opportunity for contact with nature throughout the seasons, and the provision of thoughtfully developed green space for outdoor learning and play.

Many respondents who were not in agreement, particularly those representing early years, land and greenspace organisations and individual respondents felt it important to recognise the potential to enhance children’s learning by increasing the quality of outdoor spaces and to ensure they can be used in flexible ways. Guidance to this effect would be beneficial, to maximise opportunities to play in trees and bushes, hiding spaces, grow vegetables and teach children about seasonal food and nature. Children were seen to be entitled to daily contact with nature and that this had not been well considered in the current guidance. It was also noted that the costs of natural play as opposed to building a traditional tarmac playground compared well. Wider benefits were also seen in making such spaces accessible to the wider community.

A suggestion was made that the Regulation may benefit from a change in tone and that the current language had the potential to restrict interpretation and fit less well with the contemporary interpretation of play initiatives such as loose play, grass areas and natural materials such as sand and plants. It was further proposed that that the word play should be included to amend wording to “ appropriate to children’s education, play and recreation.”

Teachers have a requirement to teach outdoors to deliver the Curriculum for Excellence, and greenspace plays an important part in the promotion of good physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. It was therefore suggested that the Regulations could be amended to maximise the learning potential and health benefits of outdoor play. These principles were embedded in the improvement tools ‘How Good is Your School (fourth edition)’ and ‘Learning for Sustainability’, supporting the Scottish Government priority for outdoor learning, health and wellbeing into the Curriculum for Excellence.

Concerns were raised on the whole by land and greenspace respondents, regarding the ability of local authorities to meet the requirements set out within the existing Regulations, and that the ability to have sufficient areas for play is restricted after building, access road and parking requirements have been met. This had become more challenging due to the increase in parking provision since the original Regulations in 1967. Building Bulletin ( BB) guidelines are frequently quoted as a requirement in school projects, especially BB103 (which considers social, PE, play space and habitat) but equally these are rarely able to be accommodated in the remaining space for play. It was suggested that the school area in Section 7 of the Regulations is divided into an area for play and ‘other’, this would ensure that a sufficient area is always provided for the children’s use.

It was felt that some schools were not able to provide space for social or play purposes despite the abundance of research asserting its value. There was also a lack of natural surfacing, with ‘safe surfaces’ being favoured. Natural surfaces were seen to have a key role in teaching sustainability and were clearly advocated in programmes such as ‘Grounds for Learning’ and ‘Play Scotland’, the play agenda in Scotland. It was proposed that to counteract this, elements such as landscaping, growing to support sustainability and biodiversity should be separated from requirements such as vehicular access or car parking within the Regulations.

The introduction of a minimum space requirement to safeguard such elements was widely supported and that space for educational and recreational activities could easily be further defined so future expectations can be met without having to re-legislate. Local authority and land and greenspace respondents made a variety of comments, including that the area of play to be provided could be represented as a percentage of the area defined under Regulations 7 and 20 and considered over and above the Regulation 8 requirement for school playing fields. The current Regulation 20 was thought to be vague, contradicting the greater emphasis being placed on outdoor learning and ease of access nationally.

It was suggested that there would be some benefit in considering sportscotland’s ‘School Playing Fields Planning and Design Guidance’ (2006) outlining the importance of outdoor spaces in the social and educational development of pupils and the provision of healthy exercise and creative play.

Question 4 – Acoustic Conditions. Do you agree that this Regulation adequately covers the requirements for acoustic conditions? If not, why not?

Table 5: Question 4 – Responses by type of respondent.

Type of respondent Yes No Not answered Total
Organisations:
Buildings and Infrastructure 3 3
Early Years Organisations 1 1 2
Equalities or Disabilities 2 1 1 4
Food and Catering 1 1
Independent Schools 3 3
Inspection, Regulatory and Advocacy 2 2
Land and Greenspace 1 4 5
Local Authority 10 5 15
Professional Body 1 1
Sports and Leisure 1 1
Trade Union 2 2
Youth Work Organisations 1 1
Total organisations 17 11 12 40
% of organisations answering 61% 39% 100%
Individuals 17 5 15 37
% of individuals answering 77% 23% 100%
All respondents 34 16 27 77
% of all respondents 44% 21% 35% 100%
% of all those answering 68% 32% 100%

A majority of respondents, 68% of those answering the question, agreed that this Regulation adequately covers the requirements for acoustic conditions. Individual respondents were more likely to agree as those from organisations (77% and 61% respectively). 2 out of 3 local authority respondents agreed.

Of those respondents who answered Question 4, 20 went on to make further comments.

Those who agreed that the Regulation adequately covered the requirement for acoustic conditions did so whilst raising a number of issues for consideration. These included:

  • To ensure the various sensory needs of different pupils were considered, especially those with additional support needs such as autistic spectrum disorder who may have additional sensory requirements.
  • To ensure that there was an associated provision for the local authority to set local standards appropriate to their circumstances.
  • To provide further guidance in relation to best practice.

The need for Scottish Government guidance was also expressed by local authority and equalities or disability groups, who were not in agreement with the current Regulation and felt there was some benefit including them within Building Standards. Best practice was currently being referred to via Building Bulletin 93, which is only applicable in England and Wales but is used in school design in Scotland. There was a preference to place Building Bulletin 93 or other appropriate Scottish standards on a statutory footing which would assist in avoiding disparity across schools. There was value in stipulating minimum criteria to be met. Clearer standards would improve monitoring and compliance and help share effective practice and support authorities to address local challenges.

Acoustics were considered to be an integral component of education, educational performance and pupil wellbeing. A number of respondents felt that the definition should be sophisticated enough to reflect this and that Regulation 24 currently over emphasises ‘disturbance by noise’ whereas acoustic conditions covers a range of elements such as reverberation time, speech intelligibility and sound insulation. It should be made clearer in the Regulation that each design aspect requires to consider acoustics in its totality and apply it as appropriate to support the purpose for which a specific part of the building is intended.

There was a strong view from equality or disablity respondents that good listening was critical to improving learning outcomes, so the right conditions were essential to access the curriculum and be fully included in school life. An attainment gap however exists between deaf children and their peers at school and poor acoustics can be a contributory factor in this as recognised by the Scottish Parliament and Cultural Committee Inquiry into the attainment of those with sensory impairment. The Inquiry found that ‘appropriate acoustic standards are vital for children with a hearing impairment and that (they) do not understand why the relevant standards are not statutory in Scotland when this is the case in England and Wales.’

It was suggested that the specific requirements of learning environments needed to be recognised, for example those associated with alternative learning environments. It was further suggested that the local authority should be required to detail the intended use of any space and the necessary acoustic conditions needed. An identified complexity however was that in an age of inclusion many children struggled with the levels of background noise, with the potential to increase volume, distraction and stress and that many schools may indeed be open plan. It was proposed that it might be valuable to define what an acceptable level of background noise was. Some existing and newly developed premises were seen to be poorly designed to the extent where they are having an adverse effect on teaching and learning.

Additional comments were made by a minority of individual respondents in relation to the impact of acoustics on behaviour overall and the capacity to potentially improve behaviours in the classroom. The need to ensure sufficiently high standards of acoustic insulation in relation to performing arts subjects, music percussion and in rooms used for the teaching of percussion was also recognised.

There was a concluding view by an equalities and disablities respondent that the current Regulation was aspirational rather than compulsory and given its criticality to learning should be mandated.

Question 5 – Water Supply – Do you agree that this Regulation adequately covers the requirements for water supply? If not, why not?

Table 6: Question 5 – Responses by type of respondent.

Type of respondent Yes No Not answered Total
Organisations:
Buildings and Infrastructure 1 1 1 3
Early Years Organisations 1 1 2
Equalities or Disabilities 1 3 4
Food and Catering 1 1
Independent Schools 3 3
Inspection, Regulatory and Advocacy 2 2
Land and Greenspace 2 3 5
Local Authority 11 4 15
Professional Body 1 1
Sports and Leisure 1 1
Trade Union 1 1 2
Youth Work Organisations 1 1
Total organisations 18 8 14 40
% of organisations answering 69% 31% 100%
Individuals 18 3 16 37
% of individuals answering 86% 14% 100%
All respondents 36 11 30 77
% of all respondents 47% 14% 39% 100%
% of all those answering 77% 23% 100%

A majority of respondents, 77% of those answering the question, agreed that this Regulation adequately covers the requirements for water supply. Individual respondents were more likely to agree as those from organisations (86% and 69% respectively).

Of those respondents who answered Question 5, 11 went on to make further comments.

A Land and Greenspace respondent agreed that the Regulation adequately covers the requirements for water supply, and confirmed their agreement with the provision of drinking water, water for washing purposes and general water supplies. It was however noted that further and more specific guidance would be beneficial.

Local authority respondents were more likely to comment on the specifics of the Regulation. Specific responses are as follows:

Point (1) that in every school building wholesome water in sufficient quantities shall be provided for drinking and for all other purposes.

There was agreement by a number of local authority respondents that wholesome water in sufficient quantities should be provided for drinking, cooking, food preparation and washing but not necessarily for other purposes such as toilet flushing. It was further suggested that the definition be changed from ‘wholesome’ to ‘potable water, available in sufficient quantities in appropriate locations’. An individual respondent believed that the need for sufficient water was covered by other legislation, namely the Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) (Scotland) Act 2007 and was set within the context of nutritional value, hydration and supporting a healthy lifestyle which they believed sent a stronger message.

Point (2) that each wash basin or group of wash basins shall have a supply of water warmed sufficiently for washing purposes.

It was suggested by local authority respondents that reference should be made to the varying suitability of water temperature for different groups such as children or young people with additional support needs, and that this warrants further consideration. A further comment suggested this might therefore be amended to “heated and thermostatically controlled” water.

Point (3) that all sinks to be used for general purposes and baths shall have an adequate supply of separately controlled hot and cold water.

There were a number of views about all sinks having an adequate supply of separately controlled water, and that this was unlikely to be required for general purpose sinks. There was an accompanying concern that this would lead to increased maintenance and utility costs and there was potential for the legionella control requirements to be affected if the outlet is infrequently used. However, where baths were to be provided then the provision of warm water was deemed acceptable.

Point (4) that every shower shall have a supply of water warmed to a temperature of not less than 38°C nor more than 44°C.

A few comments were made specifically regarding water temperature and tended to be in agreement with the suggested temperature range, with one local authority respondent recommending a maximum of 41 degrees.

Further guidance was welcomed as the majority considered the Regulation vague and it required to be better defined, and was open to misinterpretation. It was noted that there are more significant water Regulations that must be complied with, that are in excess of the Regulation requirements. These include The Scottish Water Bylaws, Legionella Guidance and the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers ( CIBSE). It was felt to be useful to amend Regulation 25 to reflect the provisions of The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (‘Workplace Regulations’) which states that “ an adequate supply of drinking water must be provided”. This must be “ wholesome, situated at suitable and readily accessible places and conspicuously marked, where necessary, for health and safety reasons.

Finally, land and greenspace respondents expressed strong views that outside taps for both drinking and handwashing should be included in the Regulation and the provision for an appropriate external water supply to support outdoor play and growing areas for learning.

Question 6 – Grant -Aided Schools. Do you agree that the new Regulations should apply to grant aided schools? If not, why not?

Table 7: Question 6 – Responses by type of respondent.

Type of respondent Yes No Not answered Total
Organisations:
Buildings and Infrastructure 1 1 1 3
Early Years Organisations 2 2
Equalities or Disabilities 1 3 4
Food and Catering 1 1
Independent Schools 3 3
Inspection, Regulatory and Advocacy 2 2
Land and Greenspace 1 4 5
Local Authority 14 1 15
Professional Body 1 1
Sports and Leisure 1 1
Trade Union 2 2
Youth Work Organisations 1 1
Total organisations 22 1 17 40
% of organisations answering 96% 4% 100%
Individuals 19 18 37
% of individuals answering 100% 0% 100%
All respondents 41 1 35 77
% of all respondents 53% 1% 45% 100%
% of all those answering 98% 2% 100%

Almost all respondents, 98% of those answering the question, agreed that the new Regulations should apply to grant aided schools. Individual respondents were more likely to agree as those from organisations (100% and 96% respectively).

No further issues were raised at Question 6 regarding grant aided Schools.


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