# Determining primary school capacity: guidance for local authorities

Guidance on the determination of the capacity of primary schools, with the aim of providing a consistent approach to calculating the capacity.

### 1. Planning Capacity

1.1 Definition

Planning Capacity is a physical, theoretical measure of the total number of pupils which could be accommodated in a school, based on the total number of teaching spaces, the size of those spaces and the class size maxima.

It is important to note here that in reality, Planning Capacity is rarely achieved due to the size of a school and how many classes it can offer, differences in class sizes for different age groups, etc. Some pupil distributions are more efficient, allowing some schools to operate more closely to Planning Capacity than others.

Planning Capacity should be used for broad strategic issues relating to school provision, e.g. for forward planning for the school estate, to assess the impact of new government policies, etc.

As outlined in the Suitability Core Fact publication (see Appendix 1) it is this figure which should be returned to the Scottish Government in the annual School Estate Core Facts Statistical return.

If all Local Authorities measure Planning Capacity in the same way, the data which is reported to the Scottish Government and published on an annual basis will be consistent, leading to the benefits outlined in Section 1.3 of Part 1 of this guidance.

1.2 Calculating Planning Capacity

There are 4 steps to calculating Planning Capacity:

1) Determine which teaching spaces will be included
2) Determine the size of selected class bases
3) Determine the maximum number of pupils which could be accommodated in each class base
4) Total Planning Capacity

1) Determine which teaching spaces will be included

The Planning Capacity calculation should include all teaching spaces in a school which are designated for full time class teaching. This will include all closed/cellular, semi-open and open-plan class bases.

Local Authorities should make a judgement on the status of any temporary accommodation e.g. modular external teaching spaces, in their longer term planning, to determine whether or not they should be included in the Planning Capacity calculation.

The nature and use of teaching space varies from school to school. In many cases, teaching spaces are moving away from traditional closed/cellular classrooms. Many new schools are being designed where class bases open out to breakout space. The diagrams below illustrate a variety of layouts which exist in Scotland's schools. It is only the designated Class Bases, as marked in the diagrams, which should be included in the capacity calculation.

Diagrams:

The Planning Capacity calculation should only include class bases. It should not include ancillary areas or general purpose ( GP) areas.

The following areas are some examples of areas considered as ancillary and should not be included in the capacity calculation:

• Staff rooms
• Meeting rooms
• Offices
• Store rooms
• Smaller learning support or breakout areas not suitable to be a GP area.
• Reception area
• Areas designated solely for community use
• Toilets / wash areas
• Changing rooms
• Kitchen / dining facilities
• Medical rooms

A GP area is an activity space which is set aside to be used for educational purposes other than class based teaching. GP areas can be class bases or open spaces within a school, such as breakout space next to a class base. Any breakout space being used as a GP area should be of sufficient size to accommodate the required number of pupils undertaking the necessary activity e.g. half a class or a full class.

GP provision in schools will vary within and across Local Authority areas dependent upon the nature of the school and how it is designed. Local Authorities should take these factors into account when determining GP areas in each school.

Examples of GP areas:

• Teaching spaces not used as a class base
• Breakout areas
• Dance rooms
• Drama rooms
• Music rooms
• Art rooms
• I.T. suites
• Libraries
• Learning support rooms
• Gym/sports hall

It should be noted that teaching spaces which deliver full time class teaching as well as activities such as dance, music or I.T. are not GP areas.

The table below sets out the recommended minimum number of GP areas for a school, where possible, based on the total number of class bases in the school.

Number of Class Bases

Number of GP Areas

1-7

1

8-14

2

15-21

3

22+

4

For example, a school which has six class bases, where possible, should have at least one GP area. A school which has nine class bases, where possible, should have at least two GP areas.

Ultimately it is a Local Authority decision, based on the requirements of the school, how many GP areas a school should have.

Taking the above factors into consideration, how many and which rooms are being included in the capacity calculation should be determined.

2) Determine the size of selected class bases

There are currently variations around how Local Authorities physically measure teaching spaces.

In line with Section 6 of the School Premises (General Requirements and Standards) (Scotland) Regulations 1967, it is recommended that rooms should be measured wall to wall. This eliminates issues around the variations in the amount, size and location of furniture.

3) Determine the maximum number of pupils which could be accommodated in each class base

Size of Room

To determine how many pupils can be accommodated in a class base, it is recommended that the total class base be divided by 1.7m 2, and then rounded down. This will give you the number of pupils which could be accommodated in that class base, based on size.

This is in line with the majority of Local Authorities' existing policies, and what some Local Authorities who currently calculate capacity using a different metric are planning to work towards in the future.

Currently some Local Authorities use different metrics to calculate semi-open or open plan class bases, however, for consistency it is recommended that semi-open and open plan class bases should be calculated in the same way, allowing for a minimum of 1.7m 2 per pupil.

Class Size Maxima

Once the maximum number of pupils which can be accommodated in a class base, based on size, has been determined, Local Authorities should then apply class size maxima. Current class size maxima are as follows*:

Primary 1: 25 pupils
Primary 2-3: 30 pupils
Primary 4-7: 33 pupils
Composite class: 25 pupils

* NB: These class size limits are current at the date of publication of this guidance. However, the Scottish Government has indicated that it intends to consult in 2014 on possible changes to these limits

Generally, class bases are not assigned to a specific year group meaning the year group using a specific room can change year on year. Local Authorities should consider and apply an optimum and realistic class distribution for that school to calculate the Planning Capacity, based on their knowledge and experience. This need not reflect the specific class distribution in any given year.

For example, it is likely that a school with four class bases will be made up of four composite classes. In this case, as long as the class bases are greater than 42.5m 2, the Planning Capacity of the school would be 100. However, schools with eight or nine class bases could have varying numbers of composite classes.

The Planning Capacity for each class base will be capped by either the size of the room or the class size maxima, whichever is less.

Example:
A school has 13 class bases, ranging in size from 45m 2 to 60m 2. Based on size, these rooms can hold 26 - 35 pupils respectively.
The class size maxima mean that no class can exceed 33 pupils and the P1-3 class size maxima require classes of no more than 25 and 30. There will also be composite classes capped at 25.

A realistic class distribution for a thirteen class school might be:

• 1 x 25 pupil classes for P1
• 2 x 30 pupil classes for P2-3
• 4 x 33 pupil classes for P4-7
• 6 x 25 pupil composite classes

This is checked against the class bases and as, in this example, these class sizes can be accommodated within the given class bases, it gives a Planning Capacity of 367 pupils.

Class Base

Room Area (m 2)

Class

Planning Capacity

1

45

P1

25

2

55

Composite

25

3

55

P2

30

4

55

Composite

25

5

55

P3

30

6

55

Composite

25

7

60

P4

33

8

55

P5

33

9

60

P6

33

10

60

P7

33

11

60

Composite

25

12

60

Composite

25

13

60

Composite

25

Total

367

This is a maximum realistic capacity, however, it can be seen that in practice it is unlikely that it would be achieved unless the school is 'full' at every stage.

4) Total Planning Capacity

The total Planning Capacity of the school can be found by adding together the Planning Capacity of each class base involved in the calculation.

Please see further examples on worked examples

1.3 Notes

When applying this guidance, Local Authorities must ensure that they are not in breach of The School Premises (General Requirements and Standards) (Scotland) Regulations 1967, for example, in relation to size of site, sanitary accommodation etc., relevant aspects of the 1980 Act which relate to school accommodation, pupil safety etc. as well as relevant building standards and health and safety legislation. Authorities should also consider how the school's facilities, such as dining areas, gym halls, circulation spaces etc. will provide for or limit the capacity of the school.

### Contact

Email: Central enquiry unit ceu@gov.scot