Inclusive design for schools is extremely important when it comes to refurbishing your premises. Here’s a look at 5 key principles to consider.
When it comes to school refurbishments, there are a lot of things to consider. Not only do you need to think about planning, choosing a contractor and budgeting, you also need to carefully consider the design. Many educational establishments are home to children and staff with a variety of needs and you should incorporate inclusive design into your refurbishment.
A school that is not only attractive but also accessible to all children promotes inclusivity and a better sense of belonging. Inclusive design for schools goes beyond the basic one-size-fits-all model and addresses anything that may affect the experience of any site user. It is about considering everyone, including students with SEN and disabilities as well as disabled staff and visitors.
Inclusive design for schools refers to taking into consideration the needs of all students, staff and visitors when making design decisions. For example, you should think about leaving room for wheelchair users, space in classrooms for extra equipment and teaching assistants, as well as potentially creating a room for learning support.
There are key principles that you should keep in mind when looking at inclusive design for schools. The Department for Children, Schools and Families has put together a useful document. We’ve taken a look through their advice and have found 5 key principles that we wanted to highlight for you.
Learning environments should be accessible to all users. This allows children with SEN and other disabilities to take part in activities alongside their fellow classmates. Inclusive design for schools ensures a simple and clear layout that is easily understood and navigated. Ergonomic details should also be included, such as door handles for wheelchair users or those using a walking stick. Escape routes should also take into account access for disabled people.
Children with SEN and other disabilities may require more space and inclusive design for schools takes this into account. This includes room for movement for those who may need mobility aids, space for specialist equipment and extra ‘personal’ space for those who need it. In general, there should be space for vehicular movement, safe clearances around furniture and equipment and room for additional staff. Extra storage space might be useful to store bulky equipment and additional learning resources.
The school environment should be flexible and able to adapt to the current and potential future needs of staff and students. These may include everyday changes, or special adaptations that take place over time. To incorporate inclusive design for schools on your premises, you should ensure that spaces are designed so that they can adapt as their functions change. Different sizes of space should be accessible to suit different needs. Partitions may be a potential addition to rooms so that they can change size as needed. You should also try to avoid too much fixed furniture so that they can be moved if needed.
Health and well-being are important things for schools to promote. They should teach respect and dignity. This can be done by creating comfortable and inclusive spaces to be used by everyone. This includes taking into account things such as thermal comfort, particularly for those unable to communicate their needs. Schools should also feature proper ventilation without unwanted draughts. Access to personal care facilities and medical care should also be provided.
As with any establishment, safety is a core principle when it comes to inclusive design for schools. Children with SEN and other disabilities should feel safe and secure in their learning environment. Proper safety includes good sightlines for supervision. This is particularly important when there is an activity that involves risks. The use of zoning can outline the different functions of various spaces. Security is also a key part of safety measures and includes ensuring that unauthorised access to areas and exits is prevented.
The Government’s guide to inclusive design for schools contains a wealth of information. If you’re looking to refurbish your establishment whilst staying inclusive to all users, you may find it a useful document to read through.
At King Builders, we have extensive experience working on educational projects from routine maintenance to full refurbishment projects. Our friendly team can help guide you through the planning process and organise a team of professionals to work with you on the completion of your refurbishment.