# 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.

### 2. Working Capacity

**2.1**
**Definition**

Working Capacity is a dynamic and more realistic measure of the total number of pupils which can be accommodated in a school in a particular school session. The Planning Capacity is adjusted based on the organisational needs of the school that session e.g. taking into account pupil roll, composite classes, staffing etc. to calculate Working Capacity.

The Working Capacity should be used to determine the number of places available in a particular school session and therefore, when considering placing requests and other issues relating to a specific school session. It should be understood that Working Capacity should be used as a management tool by Local Authorities to monitor how efficiently their school estate is used and as a measurement against pupil roll to determine sufficiency, rather than as a physical measure of the school estate.

**2.2**
**Calculating Working Capacity**

Working Capacity is calculated using the same four steps used to calculate Planning Capacity, but takes into account the organisational needs of a particular school session. Working Capacity may or may not vary year to year.

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 teaching spaces included could vary from those included in the Planning Capacity calculation, for example, because:

- The teaching spaces designated as class bases and GP areas may change
- Where pupil rolls are decreasing, less class bases may be required
- Local Authorities may make use of "team teaching"
^{[1]}.

Only spaces used for class based teaching in that school session should be included in the Working Capacity calculation.

**2) Determine the size of selected class bases**

This step is the same as for Planning Capacity. 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**

This step varies from the method used in the Planning Capacity calculation.

First, as with Planning Capacity, the rooms should be divided by
1.7m
^{2} then rounded down to determine the number of pupils
which could be accommodated in that class base, based on size.

The class distribution being used for that school session should then be applied, matching classes to specific rooms, to determine the cap on the number of pupils in that room based on class size maxima.

At this stage, Local Authorities should take into account any existing local policies which cap class sizes below the statutory limits, e.g. for multi-stage composite classes, and apply their own policies regarding factors such as Primary 1 intake levels and team teaching, taking into account how any pre-school and ASN provision within a school could impact on the capacity.

**
Flexible Approach
**

Where the physical size of the class base limits the capacity to
less than one full class with use of 1.7m
^{2} per pupil, it would be reasonable, in specific
circumstances, to adjust the calculation to allow a full class to
be accommodated if required in that session.

As outlined in the examples below, whilst it is acknowledged
that 1.7m
^{2} per pupil may not be possible in all circumstances, it
is recommended that the calculation does not go below 1.5m
^{2} per pupil.

Examples:

- A 55m
^{2}room will only accommodate 32 pupils according to the 1.7m^{2}per pupil metric. If it was necessary to accommodate a class of 33 in this room, the total area of the room should be divided by the required class size, e.g. 55 / 33, to determine the space available per pupil. In this case, it would be 1.66m^{2}. As this is greater than 1.5m^{2}, it would be deemed acceptable as a temporary measure.

- A 48m
^{2}room would only accommodate 28 pupils according to the 1.7m^{2}metric. If it was necessary to accommodate more than 28 pupils in this room, the total room space should be divided by the required class size, e.g. 48/33, to determine the space available per pupil. As this would only allow for 1.45m^{2}per pupil, it is recommended that, the Working Capacity of a 48m^{2}room would be 32 pupils maximum (48/1.5 = 32).

Local Authorities will have very specific reasons if it chooses
to use a metric of less than 1.7m
^{2} per pupil. Where Local Authorities have made a
decision to only apply 1.7m
^{2} per pupil, this should be defensible in placing
request decisions and such like.

A Local Authority should be able to apply this aspect of the
methodology to some or all of its schools as it moves towards
adopting these guidelines in all of its schools. For example, a
Local Authority may choose to use less than 1.7m
^{2} to calculate the Working Capacity of some of its
schools where there are pressures, but not others.

It is important to note that the 1.7m
^{2} per pupil metric is the minimum measure to be used for
class bases when designing new schools, building extensions and
undertaking refurbishments, and for both determining Planning
Capacity and developer contributions. If a Local Authority chooses
to provide >1.7m
^{2} per pupil in their schools, it is at its discretion to
do so. For example, a Local Authority may choose to provide 2m
^{2} per pupil. As a result, a class base for 33 pupils
would need to be 66m
^{2}. When dividing this space by 1.7m
^{2} per pupil to calculate capacity, a room of this size
would allow for 38 pupils based on the size of the room, however,
the class size maxima will cap this room at 25, 30 or 33.

Use of measurements below 1.7m
^{2} per pupil should only be used at the Local Authority's
discretion, in specific circumstances prescribed by the Authority,
as an interim factor to deal with temporary or transitional
arrangements in existing schools. It is appreciated that Scotland's
existing school estate varies dramatically. This flexible approach
is to allow Local Authorities to manage their existing estate more
effectively in the interim period. Where Local Authorities make use
of less than 1.7m
^{2}, they should continue to monitor these particular
class bases and schools to work towards achieving a minimum of 1.7m
^{2} per pupil in these areas in the future.

It should be noted that on occasion a P1-P3 class may contain more than the statutory maximum number of children where 'excepted pupils' have been placed under the Education (Lower Primary Class Sizes) (Scotland) Regulations 1999.

**4) Total Working Capacity**

The total Working Capacity of the school for a particular school session can be found by adding together the Working Capacity of each room involved in the calculation.

Please see the examples on worked examples.

**2.3**
**Notes**

If Working Capacity or pupil rolls exceed the Planning Capacity
of a school, for example due to use of less than 1.7m
^{2}, it is important for Local Authorities to monitor
these areas and make decisions as to whether more permanent
solutions are required to create additional Planning Capacity at
the school.

Local Authorities must ensure that when putting measures in place to allow for a greater number of pupils in the school, e.g. converting GP areas into class bases, building temporary accommodation, using team teaching etc., 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. and relevant health and safety and building standards legislation. On a practical level, Local Authorities should also consider the impact putting measurements in place to allow for a greater number of pupils may have on the existing facilities, such as the dining areas, gym halls, circulation spaces etc. and whether these facilities could cope.

### Contact

Email: Central enquiry unit ceu@gov.scot

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