Optimising your school spaces with masterplanning
The Department for Education (DfE) provides some basic guidance for planning schools’ space (the overall grounds) and spaces (the discrete indoor and outdoor areas). But this advice is far from comprehensive and unlikely to be specific enough to suit individual institutions.
Your school’s spatial needs would probably have been met by the masterplan at the time that it was first designed and built, but over time the minimum requirements for the size of spaces, such as classrooms, laboratories, offices or corridors, have changed.
Generally speaking, spaces in modern schools are allowed to be larger than previous guidance permitted. This means that older schools are often at a disadvantage, perhaps even no longer fit for purpose. If yours is an older school, you may need to retrofit your space and spaces to suit a new masterplan.
You can ensure that all the spaces within your school are both big enough and fit for purpose by masterplanning the facilities across its estate. This means assessing your buildings and grounds against current DfE guidance and designing a masterplan that delivers the greatest benefit to your school, staff and pupils.
The masterplan can identify which spaces are either the wrong size or unsuitable for their intended use. Applying information about the school’s curriculum – knowing which subjects you’re going to teach where – helps you to work out how much room you need for each purpose. This clarifies where spaces can be built, extended or repurposed and made more efficient. For example, mapping the locations of classrooms against the curriculum and timetable can help you to reduce the time it takes pupils to walk between lessons. Some spaces can be used for a variety of purposes – if it’s designed to be adaptable, the gym, for example, can do double duty as the assembly hall.
An effective masterplan helps you to set a strategic investment plan for addressing shortfalls and remedying unsuitable spaces, making sure that you have the room you need and that the school is modern and fit for purpose.
The masterplan helps you to make informed decisions about:
- Internal remodelling
- Change of use, refit and / or refurbishment
- Extensions to address shortfalls and space lost to remodelling
- Ensuring all spaces are being used to their maximum potential, not sitting empty
- Rebuilding, if existing buildings can’t be remodelled or refurbished cost-effectively.
It holistically assesses indoor and outdoor spaces, informs your planning strategy and enables you to get the best value for your money. You shouldn’t build extra classrooms if your school already has surplus space that you could remodel and refurbish more cost-effectively, for example.
The masterplanning approach helps you to choose the right investment project for your school by:
- Clustering department spaces logically so that people working together can collaborate better
- Making sure that learning environments are appropriate to pupils’ needs, times of life and stages of learning
- Ensuring efficient and stress-free circulation and movement
- Making non-educational facilities such as toilets and changing rooms more easily accessible
- Creating a modern and appropriate environment for staff
- Providing a professional and engaging experience for visitors
- Ensuring appropriate outdoor facilities for play, sport and physical education
- Building spaces that can be maintained with a minimum of cost and time.
Why adopt masterplanning?
- Have all your school’s buildings holistically assessed by critical professionals, such as architects, planning experts and architectural designers, with experience in designing and developing school buildings
- Identify shortfalls and surpluses and assess the suitability and condition of spaces, in line with government guidance
- Develop proposals for addressing shortfalls or surpluses with a 8new building, extension, remodelling and/or repurposing
- Set a robust and strategic plan for developing your school’s buildings that can support funding applications to local or central government
- Work out how to use existing spaces more efficiently and assess whether suitable areas can be re-zoned to generate extra revenue
- Critically assess and redesign the layout of spaces to save time lost through poor circulation and remotely-located toilets and social areas
- Identify logical flow patterns through the school, prioritising the flow of pupils in primary school and the location of departments for better interaction and collaboration in secondary school, when pupils choose their subjects and need more specialised spaces like science labs, home economics classrooms and ICT labs
To find out how Entrust’s masterplanning service can help you to get maximum value out of your school’s spaces, contact us