ASE urges schools to seek specialist advice when building labs
30 October 2012
The Association for Science Education is stressing the importance of specialist advice when building science laboratories following the Department for Education’s unveiling of a new set of design specifications for constructing schools.
The new baseline designs give examples for building smaller and cheaper future schools in response to the James Review, which called for a set of standardised plans.
ASE broadly endorses the guidelines, having provided detailed feedback via its Safeguards in Science Committee to the Department for Education as the designs were being developed.
John Lawrence, Deputy CEO at the Association of Science Education and a member of the Safeguards in Science Committee, said: “The ASE welcomes the opportunity to work with the Government on these designs and endorses them with regards to science labs as a minimum specification for new build schools.
“We are convinced the outcome is much better than it might have been without such input.
“The success of such designs in practice will depend on the detailed design of individual projects.”
Seeking specialist advice will help schools ensure labs are safe and provide a suitable learning environment. This means taking into consideration details like whether teachers can engage effectively if workbenches are set out so that students do not face the front.
Overall, the ASE’s Safeguards Committee concluded:
- The job of designing in all the appropriate rooms for the science suite has been done well.
- The numbers of labs are appropriate and the floor area for preparation work is adequate, if by no means generous.
- Essential ancillary spaces have been included such as chemicals store and science work room.
Safeguards Committee Member Peter Borrows said: “These designs should lead to functional buildings, if not a very inspiring learning environment.
“More will now depend on having sufficient, well-trained, qualified science teachers whose on-going professional development will enable them to provide that inspiration to our young people.”
The designs meet Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP) PFI projects specifications, which are currently not required for schools procured by other means. The details of the designs can be foundon the DfE website.
For more on specialist advice, visit the Lab Design section of ASE’s website.