Activity and sports floors - are you getting the floor you are entitled to?

Comment by RICHARD AYLEN, Technical Manager, Junckers

It Is fortunate that the Department for Education’s Schools Building Programme has been able to continue throughout the COVID pandemic, perhaps a little battered and bruised by delays, but now looking forward to better times. As a manufacturer who supplies

activity floors to the education sector there is one undesirable aspect of the programme that I regret to say has not changed since the programme’s inception, and I believe some schools and their communities are being left at a disadvantage in terms of the sports and activity floors they are being offered. There are clear design rules for the types of activity floors that can be

used in schools; rules that are set out in the ESFA’s “Technical Annex 2D: Internal Elements and Finishes” and “Output Specification Generic Design Brief”, both published in November 2017. “Activity floors” are those used for sports, PE, dance and any other

activity where the floor plays a role in reducing impact injuries. The types of floors that the ESFA requires for activity areas are sprung floors that comply with EN 14904 categories A3 or A4. These will normally be made from a timber deck, e.g., hardwood, on sprung battens or a foam underlay, or a timber deck topped with vinyl, linoleum or similar. These have been in widespread use for decades and are proven to be safe, comfortable and effective in reducing injuries. Sometimes however the school will be given an alternative, for example

cushion sheet vinyl or polyurethane floor bonded to the cement base. These are “point elastic” floors and their performance fall short of the recommended area elastic type. It will be no surprise perhaps to learn that these floors are cheaper. Point elastic floors fail to comply with the DfE design rules- and so should not be offered in the first place. Cushion vinyl floors do not have the same shock absorption and performance level as the recommended A3 or A4 types of floor and for some activities can “lock” the foot in place resulting in tendon strains. Someone may benefit from supplying an alternative floor, but it is certainly not the school. Some schools have been told that younger students have lower body

mass, so they do not need a shock absorbing floor like adults do. They also suggest the soft foam surface is safer than say a sprung timber surface if a student falls on the floor… which appears to contradict the first suggestion! I have yet to see factual information that supports either claim. When you consider that a vinyl or polyurethane floor has one quarter

the life span of a solid hardwood floor, cannot be recycled, is difficult to dispose of and has high levels of embodied carbon being derived from crude oil, for reasons other than short term cost, it is hard to see where the appeal lies. So, if you are due to have new activity hall floors, or existing ones are

being replaced it may be worth checking what has been specified. The ESFA design rules will provide you with a very good floor…but only if the rules are followed.



he £55m Inverurie Campus, which

was fitted out by Deanestor, one of the UK’s leading school furniture and fitout specialists, has won Development of the Year (Public Buildings) at the Scottish Property Awards. Built by Robertson

Construction, the campus for Aberdeenshire Council was delivered by hub North Scotland and will accommodate up to 1,600 primary and secondary school pupils. The architects were Halliday Fraser Munro. In a £3m contract, Deanestor fitted out 360 rooms across the campus

and manufactured bespoke fixed furniture which included booth seating for the learning plazas, break-out spaces, café, and social dining; 1,950 metres of shelving; 670 metres of laminate and laboratory worktops; 400 base and wall storage units; 84 primary and secondary teaching walls, and more than 500 items of metalwork. Ramsay McDonald, Managing Director of Deanestor Scotland, said, “The success of this major new campus – which was one of the largest construction projects in Scotland – really demonstrates our expertise in the education sector, and the quality of our work. The furniture and fitting out makes an important contribution to the success of any project, helping to create inspiring learning environments for future generations.”

For further information, visit, call 01623 420041 or email




ffsite construction specialist, Premier

Modular, has delivered a new £2m special educational needs facility at Nethergate Academy in Nottingham – an Ofsted Outstanding special school for children with autism, learning difficulties and disabilities. The school is sponsored by Greenwood Academies Trust. The main driver for Nottingham City Council’s decision to use offsite was

the essential need to reduce noise and disruption to the children by moving construction work into a factory. The building also had to be delivered to a short programme ready for occupation for the start of the new academic year. To achieve this, Premier continued work on the project through the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. The new purpose-designed facilities have expanded the teaching spaces

for autistic children and provide 48 new places. Designed and built by Premier with delivery architects Lungfish, the

scheme had to be installed on a constrained site within the fully operational school. Careful logistics planning and traffic management ensured access to the school was maintained throughout the construction programme. Cranage of the modules was also timed for the school holidays to further minimise disruption.

For further information, visit, call 0800 316 0888 or email

June 2021

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