Ventilation and fire safety in schools: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

“As a concerned parent of children who attend Scottish schools, I would like to know your concerns over Nicola Sturgeon's announcement that doors will be chopped at the bottom. For the purposes of better ventilation??? Surely doors in schools are all fire doors that should be unable to allow heat, smoke, or fire to spread. I understand that better ventilation is needed but this is ludicrous.

Please can you send me under the freedom of information act the requirements for fire safety in regards to doors in schools. And the risk assessments carried out for the idea of chopping doors for improved ventilation.”


Please note that the Scottish Government have not asked local authorities to “undercut” doors in schools.

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills’ letter to the Education, Children and Young People Committee setting out this example scenario was not guidance, and has not been issued to local authorities. It was a response to a request from the Committee to provide more detail on how costings had been arrived at. The letter stated:

“In order to calculate the £5m schools/ELC ventilation fund, we have assumed an example set of remedial measures which could be taken for each problematic space although this will vary depending on local decisions.”


“It is very important to note that these costs will of course vary significantly in practice, as the precise remedial measures used in each problematic space should be informed by local circumstances and expert assessment by local authority teams.”

Local authorities are fully aware that they should undertake any remedial work in line with Scottish Government guidance on ventilation and expert input. Our guidance already makes clear that when implementing any Covid-safety measures, local authorities must continue to adhere to legal obligations with regard to health and safety, including fire safety. It is of course for local authorities as duty holders to ensure appropriate consultation with all relevant authorities when undertaking works in school buildings.

The Scottish Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidance On Reducing The Risks In Schools was recently updated on 22nd February and can be found here. This guidance touches on Fire Safety and Health and Safety, however it does not refer to “undercutting” doors. The guidance states:

“Keeping doors open (again, with appropriate regard to safety and security) may also help to reduce contact with door handles. However, internal fire doors should never be held open (unless assessed and provided with appropriate hold open and self-closing mechanisms which respond to the actuation of the fire alarm system). The Fire Safety Risk Assessment should always be reviewed before any internal doors are held open.”

Additionally, the Scottish Government’s Practical Fire Safety Guidance For Existing Non-Residential Premises applies to schools and can be found here. It contains guidance on fire doors, however it does not refer to the practice of “undercutting” doors either.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

Back to top