Thought Leadership

Is it Time to Rewrite or even Scrap the Building Bulletins?

Whilst schools across the UK are preparing to return to full capacity in September will we still need to be adhering to some form of social distancing measures? How will this be implemented across the vast array of schools?!

It’s quite standard for classroom occupancy to be based on 30 pupils with an area of 50-62sqm per classroom. These standards are based on national guidance within the suite of Building Bulletins. BB103 superseded BB98 and BB99, and its release resulted in reduced area provisions generally.

Whilst areas vary across different age groups the standard classroom still amounts to a relatively densely populated space, which in normal scenarios is perfectly adequate. But are we in normal times? Do our schools need to be better prepared in the future? Do they therefore need to be better planned and designed to incorporate far greater flexibility? Maybe the Building Bulletins need re-writing. Could Learning Through Landscapes open up greater opportunities, introducing more flexibility to the way we teach our future generations?

Maybe the failing high streets and vacant retail stores could become pop-up classrooms for inner city schools? Maybe our struggling out of town retail parks could be converted perfectly into a school or FE college. Larger outdoor spaces, larger areas for parking, wide central atriums for greater separation, greater visibility. Large units for far greater flexible teaching spaces across all subjects. Movable walls could introduce greater flexibility to suit different subject needs. Spaces could be large enough for sports halls and fitness suites ensuring our future generations are learning and also staying active and healthy.

The current pandemic isn’t going to be around forever, so I’m not suggesting we need to rewrite the rule book. But as designers and as a sector, the education process might need to implement some lessons learned and wider/bluesky thinking when it comes to designing our next schools and the places that nurture our future generations.

Author: Rob Prescott, DB3 Associate

Date Published: 13 July 2020

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