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How schools are tackling the impact of space-related issues

How schools are tackling the impact of space-related issues (and what they should be doing instead)

Schools went back to school this month (September), and for many, we’re sure this year’s intake was higher than the previous year’s figure.

The stats say it all – according to figures published by the Department for Education in the summer, 8.4% of all secondary school classes now have between 31 and 35 pupils. This represents a 7.7% increase on last year’s figure and is considerably higher than the 5.6% recorded in 2014.

Unfortunately, this picture doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon. The DfE’s predicted that the number of pupils in secondary schools will continue to rise as the population bulge primary schools have been experiencing since 2010, starts to move through the school system. Right now, there are 727,000 more pupils in schools than there were in 2009, stretching standard classroom dimensions to the max.

The impact of space-related issues on schools UK-wide

Larger classroom sizes and more pupils on site, leaves schools inevitably facing all sorts of resourcing problems, particularly increased workload pressures, staffing issues and budget challenges. And from a practical perspective, they physically have to find the space to cater for everybody come class time, playtime, free time and lunchtime.

In fact, it’s lunch-times where schools are really feeling the pressure of accommodating everybody within their existing space and facilities, so much so, it’s not uncommon for:

  • Pupils to struggle to find somewhere to sit and eat their lunch
  • Canteen queues to spill out into the rest of the school
  • Pupils to be late back to class

Earlier this year, we attended the Schools and Academies Show where 54% of senior school leaders admitted to us that lack of dining space was a ‘major issue’ for them right now. For the full findings, check out this post, ‘Dining space is a ‘major issue’ facing schools, say school leaders.’

Lots of schools and colleges are building extensions…

Like at St James’ Primary School in Blackburn

St James’ Church of England Primary School were finding that their pupils were often 10 to 15 minutes late for lesson time following lunch, which was having a significant impact on teaching and learning.

The school was recently given planning permission to extend their kitchen servery facility into their existing PE store, so that they can better cope with the demand for school lunches within a constrained time period.

And Excel Academy in Stoke-on-Trent

Meanwhile, at Excel Academy, which is reportedly the city’s most over-subscribed school and has had to resort to using mobile units to cater for larger classroom sizes, plans are in place to build six new multi-purpose classrooms.


Winstanley College Internal Image

They’re also installing outdoor canopies (on-budget and with minimum hassle) too…

Lots of schools are building extensions to generate extra space. Lots of schools are also installing outdoor canopies too which, unlike extensions, don’t take weeks/months on end to build or require planning permission (it’s rare for canopies to require planning permission).

Like Winstanley College in Wigan has done

Winstanley College were crying out for extra dining and study space, so they installed one of our Cantabria canopies. They use it all-year-round for dining and studying and also for events, such as parents’ evenings.

Grey Cantabria Canopy for School Dining

And St Michael’s High School in Chorley

St Michael’s were desperate for additional dining and seating space because they’d outgrown their existing dining hall. They had originally looked into building an extension but decided to install one of our Cantabria canopies instead because it ticked all of their boxes and met their budget plus, it only took us a week to install.

Are you a nursery, school or college that’s rapidly running out of dining/study/play/teaching space? We can help. Book one of our free site surveys and we’ll show you how you can get more use from your existing space much sooner than you think and within budget too. In the meantime, if you have any questions, call us on 01254 777 002. 

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