Publication - Report

Updating of the School Premises (General Requirements and Standards)(Scotland) Regulations 1967: consultation response analysis

Published: 26 Feb 2018
Directorate:
Learning Directorate
Part of:
Education
ISBN:
9781788516297

Analysis of responses from the consultation on Updating the School Premises Regulations (General Requirements and Standards)(Scotland) Regulations 1967.

64 page PDF

3.9 MB

64 page PDF

3.9 MB

Contents
Updating of the School Premises (General Requirements and Standards)(Scotland) Regulations 1967: consultation response analysis
Regulations which we proposed to update

64 page PDF

3.9 MB

Regulations which we proposed to update

Question 7 – Sites for Playing Fields. Do you agree that if there is a mixture of grass pitches and SP then the area required in some circumstances can be less than that currently defined for grass pitches? If not, why not?

Table 8: Question 7 – Responses by type of respondent.

Type of respondent Yes No Not answered Total
Organisations:
Buildings and Infrastructure 1 1 1 3
Early Years Organisations 2 2
Equalities or Disabilities 1 3 4
Food and Catering 1 1
Independent Schools 3 3
Inspection, Regulatory and Advocacy 2 2
Land and Greenspace 1 3 1 5
Local Authority 12 3 15
Professional Body 1 1
Sports and Leisure 1 1
Trade Union 2 2
Youth Work Organisations 1 1
Total organisations 19 10 11 40
% of organisations answering 66% 34% 100%
Individuals 8 26 3 37
% of individuals answering 24% 76% 100%
All respondents 27 36 14 77
% of all respondents 35% 47% 18% 100%
% of all those answering 43% 57% 100%

A majority of respondents, 57% of those answering the question, disagreed that if there is a mixture of grass pitches and SP then the area required in some circumstances can be less than that currently defined for grass pitches. The response differed between Individual and Organisational respondents. Individuals being more likely to disagree than organisations (76% and 34% respectively).

Of those respondents who answered Question 7, 37 went on to make further comments.

Local authority respondent comments were most likely to agree with the proposal and offered several suggestions for consideration:

  • With regards to the proposed update to Regulation 8, the formula should be based not on the number of pupils but the design capacity of the school.
  • The minimum area for playing fields is too prescriptive and can only be applied to new build schools. There may be accompanying issues in councils procuring land for these new schools.
  • Primary and secondary schools should be assessed separately.
  • Less defined requirements for grass pitches could be considered if synthetic pitches are provided, but consider stipulating a maximum provision of grass pitches for sporting activities.
  • The Regulation may benefit from articulating more clearly that the area required where there is a mixture of grass pitches and synthetic pitches cannot be less than that currently defined for grass pitches (This could currently be inferred).
  • Ambiguous phrases such as “ in some circumstances” should be removed as there is a risk of it being seen as a get out clause.

Access to the natural environment

The most commonly raised theme from respondents not in agreement was the importance of accessing natural environments as part of learning and play. The proposed reduction did not recognise the value of grassed areas beyond their use for outdoor sports; and the benefits they could offer both the school and wider community in terms of mental health and physical wellbeing. The ‘Learning for Sustainability Vision 2030+’ contains the recommendation that “ all school buildings, grounds and policies should support learning for sustainability” and “ every learner should have the opportunity for contact with nature in their school grounds on a daily basis through the provision of thoughtfully developed greenspace for outdoor learning and play”.

Outdoor play was seen to impact significantly on the lives of children and can help to remove barriers to physical activity and provide access to greenspace and nature, and encourage social contact and integration. There is a risk of reducing opportunities for younger children to informally play which is seen to be important in terms of learning to take risks, socialising and engaging with their natural environment. The Regulation should therefore make provision for spaces that have ecological potential and that can be managed in a sympathetic way to support diversity under the Biodiversity Duty for local authorities.

The principles of promoting natural environments were strongly supported by wider natural guidance such as through Education Scotland, Grounds for Learning Architecture and Design Scotland as well as the national Play Strategy. The potential reduction in the size of school grounds and outdoor learning as laid out, is at risk of diminishing these principles. In one case a respondent suggested that to change the Regulations in this way, offers permission for developers to concrete over existing natural spaces school might have, and that the proposal was directly at odds with the Scottish Governments policy goals.

Access to outdoor facilities

The second most commonly raised, and related theme, was that of ensuring appropriate access to a variety of spaces for physical activity, play, socialising and learning. There was a concern that the proposal for space for play would include synthetic pitches which have restricted access, have been created for sport and often have to be booked, paid for, or restrictions on footwear. The UN Convention for the Rights of the Child was quoted as stating “ in respect of play and recreation the age of the child must be considered in determining the nature of the space and environment available to children…. As children grown older they move from wanting settings that offer play opportunities to places offering opportunities for socialising. These experiences are developmentally necessary for adolescents and contribute to their discovery of identity and belonging”. There was a concern that playing and socialising space would be reduced for children who don’t want to play lunchtime football. Including synthetic pitches in outdoor space does not ultimately lend itself to running around space.

Reducing the areas available because of the nature of the material it is made of, may restrict the number of children having access to the space at the same time. It is not the material that was seen to be important but the availability of use. Children from inner city schools could be disadvantaged and experience greater restrictions by supporting a material based reduction. Equally decisions based on school roll raise the concern that if numbers were to change following land being relinquished to developers, then it would lead to inflexibility in the future. Children were considered to still need the same amount of space.

Local authorities were encouraged to make school facilities available before, during and after the school day, at weekends and during the holidays. Access could be provided to public, voluntary, community and private sector groups offering play activity programmes.

Outdoor space allocation

A land and greenspace respondent noted that Scotland’s standards for the minimum allocation of space falls below those set out in equivalent English and Welsh policies and there is an argument that this should be aligned. It was asserted that the minimum area for secondary schools should be amended to meet sportscotland guidance for the number of pitches. Some considered there was no case to reduce the area requirements if there was a synthetic surface as many schools will in fact have Multi Use Games Areas ( MUGA) rather than synthetic pitches. It may be worthwhile to indicate the recommended number of pitches rather than a total area.

Some respondents were in support of space being identified by pupil numbers or school roll but did not feel that there should be any grounds for a waiver. There had been incidences where children would instead be taken to nearby parks, but there was a view that it did not happen.

Question 8 - Educational Accommodation in primary schools and secondary schools. Do you agree that accommodation metrics are an appropriate method to calculate the educational accommodation required? If not, why not?

Table 9: Question 8 – Responses by type of respondent.

Type of respondent Yes No Not answered Total
Organisations:
Buildings and Infrastructure 2 1 3
Early Years Organisations 2 2
Equalities or Disabilities 1 3 4
Food and Catering 1 1
Independent Schools 3 3
Inspection, Regulatory and Advocacy 2 2
Land and Greenspace 1 4 5
Local Authority 13 2 15
Professional Body 1 1
Sports and Leisure 1 1
Trade Union 2 2
Youth Work Organisations 1 1
Total organisations 18 6 16 40
% of organisations answering 75% 25% 100%
Individuals 14 7 16 37
% of individuals answering 67% 33% 100%
All respondents 32 13 32 77
% of all respondents 42% 17% 42% 100%
% of all those answering 71% 29% 100%

A majority of respondents, 71% of those answering the question, agreed that accommodation metrics are an appropriate method to calculate the educational accommodation required. Organisational respondents were more likely to agree than those from individuals (75% and 67% respectively).

Of those respondents who answered Question 8, 17 went on to make further comments.

Of the comments received 1 in 3 were from respondents in agreement that accomodation metrics are an appropriate method to calculate the education accomodation requirements. The view from local authority and trade union respondents was that the metrics should be applied as a minimum and that a level of tolerance should be applied as minimum standards could potentially cause delays in project development.There was a question as to whether stipulating this in legislation could have the adverse effect of limiting the creative use of small spaces. It was suggested that when applying metrics, the modern 2-18 year campus’s should be taken into account.

It was felt that a review of the Regulation was required. An example given was that establishing metrics as a result of assessing the mean accommodation area of existing primary and secondary schools does not provide a robust rationale for the size of the teaching area, but that data on the impact and outcomes for learners, if any, on the size of the teaching area would be more meaningful. Primary schools were also seen to require more space than they currently receive as young children are known to learn best when they are moving and playing and this is needed to support a high quality learning experience. A further example was the need for clarity in terms of what exactly is included, for example ASN provision. The view of a trade union respondent was that the metrics were just not adequate to deliver the Curriculum for Excellence and future educational developments. A final comment by an individual respondent who was not in agreement with the use of accommodation metrics, was the concern that this approach does not necessarily translate to schools that are fully wheelchair accessible and that this should instead reflect the standards set out in the Building Bulletin 102.

A number of individual respondents also disagreed on the principle relating to school roll and felt that the ‘increasing the roll, decreasing space’ ratios were inappropriate and did not understand why the amount of space needed by each child should change based on the number of children in a school. Some logic was seen in determining space requirements for early years or nurseries, but not based on global school numbers. It was felt that once deemed appropriate, the size of educational accomodation for one child should remain consistent regardless of the school roll. Equally, if more pupils enter the school then correspondingly educational space should be increased.

Question 9 – Sanitary accommodation for pupils. Do you agree that this covers the requirements for toilet and washing facilities? If not, why not?

Table 10: Question 9 – Responses by type of respondent.

Type of respondent Yes No Not answered Total
Organisations:
Buildings and Infrastructure 1 1 1 3
Early Years Organisations 2 2
Equalities or Disabilities 1 1 2 4
Food and Catering 1 1
Independent Schools 3 3
Inspection, Regulatory and Advocacy 1 1 2
Land and Greenspace 1 4 5
Local Authority 10 5 15
Professional Body 1 1
Sports and Leisure 1 1
Trade Union 1 1 2
Youth Work Organisations 1 1
Total organisations 16 10 14 40
% of organisations answering 62% 38% 100%
Individuals 15 6 16 37
% of individuals answering 71% 29% 100%
All respondents 31 16 30 77
% of all respondents 40% 21% 39% 100%
% of all those answering 66% 34% 100%

A majority of respondents, 66% of those answering the question, agreed that this covers the requirements for toilet and washing facilities. Individual respondents were more likely to agree than those from organisations (71% and 62% respectively).

Of those respondents who answered Question 9, 19 went on to make further comments.

A number of local authority, trade union and individual respondents who were in agreement with the proposal provided comment:

  • The retention of the number of toilets and washbasins as prescribed in the Regulation was welcomed, and ensures a greater provision than that laid out in both the Technical Handbook and British Standard 6465-1:2006. It was considered important to acknowledge that this requirement should not pose any issues for small rural schools within Scotland.
  • It is important to note that there are revenue costs associated with sanitary facilities that require to be considered.
  • It must be ensured that the standards expected in nursery schools and classes regulated by the Care Inspectorate do not fall below that available in Primary Schools.
  • There was little experience of Primary Schools providing showers for the use of pupils 11 and over.

The most common themes arising within other responses are outlined below in order of prevalence.

Gender Neutral Toileting and Changing Provision

This theme was most likely to be raised by equality or disablity, inspection, regulatory and advocacy and individual respondents.

The Regulations were considered outdated and that they should be reviewed to adequately capture the provision of these facilities. Many transgender young people feel unable to access suitable facilities within school, with 2 in 3 saying they do not feel able to use the toilets and 7 in 10 saying they are not able to use changing rooms where they feel comfortable (School Report Scotland, 2017). Young people who do not identify with either the male or female gender were considered to be presented with the most challenge. Although the flexibility within the Regulation was welcomed, a minimum standard for schools should be outlined to include gender neutral facilities. There was a question as to whether all toilets being gender neutral was appropriate, with the recognition that many young girls already feel vulnerable using current facilities at school. Female only toilets were considered more than just a sanitary facility but also a place where privacy can be gained, where a child can feel safe and where they can deal with developmental issues such as menstruation.

A small number of respondents, mainly individuals, felt strongly that it was unacceptable for girls and boys to share toilet facilities and that this raised issues of potential vulnerability and of sexual assault in schools; although the alternative view was expressed that gender-neutral toilets can in fact reduce concerns over safety and bullying for all students, not only those who are transgender.

Regardless of view, it was felt by inspection, regulatory and advocacy respondents, that future provision should be fully embedded in a human rights approach and accompanied by statutory guidance. Compliance assessments and inspection on a regular basis is also required, particularly through gaining the views of the children and young people themselves. In the event that Regulations are not imposed there was a concern that children and young people would continue to experience breaches to their human rights on a daily basis.

There was a final observation that the Regulation would benefit from further clarity as schools can be unclear of toileting and washing requirements, and whether or not gender neutral facilities should be provided. The use of phrases such as ‘can be updated’ implies that the latter is optional.

Children with protected characteristics

Consideration needs to be given to children with protected characteristics to ensure compliance with the right standards and access to appropriate toilet facilities. The impact of crowds or the noise of hand driers can impact on those with sensory disabilities, as can the lack of private space for girls to adjust their headscarves.
It is not seen to be enough to state that “accessible facilities for pupils who are disabled should be provided”, when to achieve full acceptance and inclusion all sanitary facilities, changing rooms and showers should be fully accessible too. Children and young people with disabilities or medical conditions may face even greater challenges in maximising a fulfilling and full education if personal care needs cannot be fully supported.

The views of children and young people

The Children and Young Peoples Commissioner has been working with and listening to the views of children on the quality and standards of school toilets through the ‘Flushed with Success’ Programme. Those who dislike using school toilets because of hygiene or privacy concerns or who experience bullying may be more afraid to use facilities if not well managed, which results in physical and emotional health impacts. Considering this work and ensuring the systematic gathering of children’s views in any decision-making process was of the utmost importance.

Application of the Legislation

A small number of local authorities queried where the requirements would best be set out. It was suggested that there would be some benefit to including them in the Building Regulations given the cyclical nature of schools and that it would not be helpful to set them out in separate legislation. A further suggestion was that the pupil toilet provision requirements were outlined in the Technical Handbook rather than the School Premises Regulations.

Further comments from a minority of respondents were as follows:

  • The Regulations will result in a greater number of sanitary facilities per pupil in small schools rather than in early years facilities. It would be preferable to have a standard ratio of 1:10 of all facilities up to a given size, with a reduced ration for larger primary and secondary schools.
  • There were concerns that nursery schools were to be removed from the Regulations and may be left regulated by the Care Commission in this regard. A preference was stated for a minimum requirement to continue to be stipulated.
  • The Regulation should cover handwashing facilities outside particularly in primary school play areas where mud kitchens and sand pits are favoured.
  • Clarification should be included that showers should be provided for secondary pupils only rather than determined by age.

Question 10 – Medical Inspection and rest room accommodation. Do you agree that this covers the requirements for medical inspection and rest room accommodation? If not, why not?

Table 11: Question 10 – Responses by type of respondent.

Type of respondent Yes No Not answered Total
Organisations:
Buildings and Infrastructure 1 1 1 3
Early Years Organisations 1 1 2
Equalities or Disabilities 1 1 2 4
Food and Catering 1 1
Independent Schools 3 3
Inspection, Regulatory and Advocacy 2 2
Land and Greenspace 1 4 5
Local Authority 11 4 15
Professional Body 1 1
Sports and Leisure 1 1
Trade Union 2 2
Youth Work Organisations 1 1
Total organisations 20 6 14 40
% of organisations answering 77% 23% 100%
Individuals 16 3 18 37
% of individuals answering 84% 16% 100%
All respondents 36 9 32 77
% of all respondents 47% 12% 42% 100%
% of all those answering 80% 20% 100%

A majority of respondents, 80% of those answering the question, agreed that this covers the requirements for medical inspection and rest room accommodation. Individual respondents were more likely to agree than those from organisations (84% and 77% respectively).

Of those respondents who answered Question 10, 8 went on to make further comments.

A trade union respondent who was in agreement with the proposal stated that they supported the update to Regulation 18 which will improve minimum requirements, compared to current Regulations, especially in respect of pupils with complex needs.

Those who believed that the requirements were not currently being met were in the main equality or disability and local authority respondents.

Local authorities raised a number of concerns:

  • That the current proposal does not fit well with the requirement to use school accommodation flexibility and that where new schools have such facilities for medical and rest room use they are infrequently used for this purpose. There is a concern that where primary schools were small, that this was not the best use of space and there was a question if it was required.
  • Clarity was required on whether a separate medical room and rest room were required, given the apparent infrequent use.
  • A specific dental exam room could be provided where deemed necessary however it may be appropriate to make alternative arrangements in partnership with the NHS.

An equalities or disablities repondent was concerned that the Regulations don’t sufficiently define complex needs or provide examples to aid professional or parental understanding. There is a view that the Regulations need to be expanded to meet the needs of a diverse population of young people within the mainstream school environment. The organisation had received feedback from parents that insufficient access to such supports had impacted on school placement, access to learning and raised issues of dignity and wellbeing. It was felt important that all schools should have the capacity to create appropriate facilities when required.

Individual respondents raised a number of issues including that more than ‘short term’ facilities were required for students, as it would be reasonable to provide accommodation for sick pupils whose parents cannot collect them immediately. It was also suggested that where the consultation document refers to ‘schools that cater for complex needs’ in fact all newly built schools should be capable of meeting these requirements and should have medical accommodation to cater for those needs.

Question 11 – Lighting. Do you agree that this covers the requirements for lighting? If not, why not?

Table 12: Question 11 – Responses by type of respondent.

Type of respondent Yes No Not answered Total
Organisations:
Buildings and Infrastructure 2 1 3
Early Years Organisations 1 1 2
Equalities or Disabilities 1 1 2 4
Food and Catering 1 1
Independent Schools 3 3
Inspection, Regulatory and Advocacy 2 2
Land and Greenspace 2 3 5
Local Authority 13 2 15
Professional Body 1 1
Sports and Leisure 1 1
Trade Union 2 2
Youth Work Organisations 1 1
Total organisations 18 9 13 40
% of organisations answering 67% 33% 100%
Individuals 15 6 16 37
% of individuals answering 71% 29% 100%
All respondents 33 15 29 77
% of all respondents 43% 19% 38% 100%
% of all those answering 69% 31% 100%

A majority of respondents, 69% of those answering the question, agreed that this covers the requirements for lighting. Individual respondents were more likely to agree than those from organisations (71% and 69% respectively).

Of those respondents who answered Question 11, 15 went on to make further comments.

The comments were made by a broad range of respondents, both organisational and individual respondents.

A local authority respondent who believed the requirements were being met, felt that as appropriate lighting levels were determined by considering many different information sources, they had a preference for supplementary, non-statutory guidance on how this might be achieved.

The most frequently raised theme by those not in agreement, was the need to ensure appropriate lighting standards were met and how this could be best achieved. This was an issue for local authorities,building and infrastructure, equality or disabilities and trade union groups.

Sufficiently good lighting and lighting levels were considered essential for effective teaching and learning and as such the proposal to change the Regulations to require only ‘appropriate’ lighting with any further guidance being non-statutory was seen to seriously weaken the current position. There was an accompanying view that minimum standards should be established and set out in the Regulation.

A number of suggestions by local authorities were made in terms of how standards could be both set and maintained.

These proposals included:

  • The more rigorous requirements of the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers ( CIBSE) could be adopted; any designer should consult these and make sure proper lighting design meets the requirements. There are also specific CIBSE guides for school lighting.
  • That required standards, once set, could be subsumed into the Building Standards Technical Handbook.
  • A requirement should be made for the achievement of a silver / gold standard to be mandatory, to reflect the Scottish Government Statement of Sustainability.

The need to achieve and be recognised for this standard was also supported by a number of building and infrastructure, individual and trade union respondents. It was noted that this requirement should be mandated, and the Regulation adjusted to ensure that this is the case. There was a view that where guidance is non-statutory and only encouragement is given, desired outcomes are rarely achieved, and that there was a risk that recommendations might be ignored on the grounds of cost. Statutory guidance would have the additional benefit of ensuring a consistent approach is applied across all establishments.

Land and greenspace respondents supported the inclusion of external lighting as during the winter months outside play and education will depend on this. Again, there was a view that outside lighting should be subject to standards in excess of those determined to be safe illumination at present. For this reason, it was further recommended that as every school has a responsibility to deliver ‘Learning for Sustainability’ and that the Scottish Government in relation to this stated that school buildings, grounds and policies should support learning for sustainability.

A number of equality issues were raised with regards to the Regulation. It was felt that lighting which can be individually controlled would be the preferred option and should be left in the Regulations or in statutory guidance. This is due to the fact that learning areas are used flexibly, and lighting requirements vary. The needs of individual children may also vary and so this may be most appropriate in establishments where there is ASN provision. Appropriate lighting and design features for those who have a visual impairment was also deemed essential for students to access the curriculum and improve their overall environment. The recommendations made in the ‘Optimising the Inclusive Classroom ( OPTIC)’ resources are designed to help in planning new and refurbished school buildings and it was suggested these be adopted in the Regulations and/or accompanying guidance.

A final comment by an individual respondent stated a preference that each room used by pupils or staff, except for changing space or where privacy is required, should have access to natural light.


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