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FEATURE: SCHOOL MAINTENANCE & DESIGN


stakeholders is limited. This cost-effectiveness extends beyond the construction itself – modular designs are expandable, enabling the school to increase the pupil capacity of the building without incurring a large cost. They also allow for flexible management of space, meaning that school leaders can facilitate fluctuating numbers of pupils over the years. The portability of a modular classroom would allow a school to move the building and reconfigure their space in the event of growing numbers of students. There are of course also other options available


for schools which require more space. You’d be surprised just how much needless furniture there is in schools so a regular review of stock to check what is actually vital can be very beneficial. Also schools’ moving away from the excessive of paper will not only create much needed space within the work areas, but it will also be great for the planet. Education Executive reports that around one million sheets of paper are used by each school in the UK every single year and a total of £60,000 is being spent on photocopying! Another option schools, particularly early years


have otherwise needed to be used for car parking, welfare facilities and the storage of building equipment and materials. This further benefits the community local to the school, with a reduction in traffic to the site and disturbance to residents and anyone who travels through the vicinity, particularly during peak times such as the school run itself. This reduction in high levels of traffic factors


into one of the key reasons why schools should be considering modular builds: the environment. Given that the length of time on site is reduced, CO2 emissions produced by the machinery and vehicles involved are lowered as a result. The buildings are manufactured to tightly designed specifications, meaning that any cut-offs or left- over materials from design modifications can be used for future modular design projects and therefore reducing waste. Furthermore, the carbon footprint from use of concrete in modular designs is limited, alleviating a significant issue which builders have traditionally faced. Once a modular building is completed and is in use, the energy consumed in order to keep it warm and lit is diminished in comparison to typical brick and mortar equivalents. Using these types of construction methods


provides the opportunity to use more sustainable materials, which are precision engineered to a given standard of quality. This makes it significantly easier to comply with building standards and also helps with quality control. It is notably easier to control the quality of the finished product when the manufacturing processes are much more meticulous, while the controlled factory environment means that the materials aren’t susceptible to the elements and are much more easily accessible. Any defects or issues with production can therefore be identified and addressed at the source, removing any further disruption to the end user – teachers and pupils. Modern modular build classrooms can last for


decades and provide a great replacement for the temporary portacabins which have become a familiar eyesore at schools across the United Kingdom. They are often ugly, poorly-kept spots at the back of the school with cramped interiors ill-suited to creating an environment conducive


June 2021 www.education-today.co.uk 33


for learning. The majority of which also completely overstay their welcome, maintaining their place within schools for years on end. One of the main draws of those prefabricated


huts, was their portability, hence why they became known simply as ‘mobiles’ in many parts of the country. This is something you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice with the modern alternatives, though, as modular classrooms can be designed in a manner which allows them to be deconstructed and then reconstructed in a new location. These benefits are of little consequence if they


come at an increased cost to schools, more so now than ever given the Covid-19 era we currently find ourselves in and the ensuing financial constraints. However, the nature of the offsite construction and onsite installation makes for a much more efficient and productive manufacturing process. The speed of construction is increased, while disruption to a school and its


and primary, are turning to is outdoor classrooms, which I know immediately raises the question of our unpredictable British weather, however the majority of these innovative builds are made to function in both rain and shine, in addition to this, many use sustainable materials. Outdoor classrooms are also likely to benefit the pupils too, taking them outside the confines of their regular space which in turn can improve engagement, while maximising the benefits of regular fresh air for a child’s learning. Finally, these builds rarely require planning permission and can be put together quite quickly so will be a viable option for many educational sites throughout the UK. Regardless of which routes schools decide to


take, one thing is for certain, and that is that the space available to schools is becoming more and more at a premium every year, and innovative solutions, like modular builds, are one of the most effective ways to combat this.


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