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When the need for social distancing between sets of pupils puts pressure on finite areas that have to house a lot of them, like dining halls, schools have often had to use outdoor space. This has (as our contributor from canopy supplier Fordingbridge mentions in this supplement) led to headline-grabbing stories such as kids eating lunch outside in the rain, something which will become increasingly controversial over the colder months.

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Any new schools being planned will not be designed as establishments of the past have been. It may be fine on large suburban sites to have double-width corridors, but what about cramped city centre schools? Outdoor colonnades may be the way forward, plus perspex partitions in classrooms, and flexible spaces. Those classrooms will probably have good ventilation, as well as antibac dispensers as standard. Perhaps there could be some holistic benefits beyond ‘pupil control’ that will ensue; practicality-driven solutions which hard times often produce.

Despite the challenges, we want children to be able to be in school, however all forms of ingenuity, including design – allied of course to teachers’ laudable determination – need to be brought to bear to make this as safe as possible.

James Parker Editor


11.20 adf

ON THE COVER... Natural materials have been carefully transplanted by Architype to create the UK’s largest school designed to Passivhaus specifications to date, Harris Academy in Sutton, Surrey. Cover image © Jack Hobhouse/Architype

For the full report on this project, go to page 17.



he education sector is clearly one of the areas of the UK which has been at the sharp end of Covid, when it comes to the environments used to keep pupils distanced in the ‘new normal’ they’re confronting.

The Government announced a limited £1bn school rebuilding programme in June, but how schools are best advised to spend this in the Covid context is another challenge for the foreseeable future, as this virus shows little sign of ebbing. Alongside safety, the priority needs to be maintaining some sort of supportive environment for learning, and just ‘being’ with fellow pupils to ensure school is a healthy place mentally as well as physically.

Typically, children are being asked to form small ‘bubbles’ yet are trying to social distance from larger year groups. While some flexibility inherent to school sites can be employed to help do this, and barriers and signs can be put up, corridors will be much harder to change. It might be that those schools without the ability to fundamentally alter buildings, or on tight sites, will have to put the onus on reorganising learning. This means staggering timetables, and eventually having a mix of home and school learning to fall back on.



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