Objectives of the consultation
On 3 November 2011, the Department for Education released this consultation to seek views on revisions to the regulations governing school premises, and on a reduction in the amount of guidance produced by the Department. The consultation closed on 26 January 2012.
To download the documents that supported this consultation, please follow the links below.
- Revised School Premises Regulations - Consultation summary
- Revised School Premises Regulations - Consultation document
CIBSE believes that where undefined levels of performance are being described the term reasonable provision should be used rather than the phrase “suitable”, and that such undefined requirements should only be used where it is absolutely essential, and that wherever possible criteria should be set out which address the key characteristics for any properties.
The Regulations should have regard to the more litigious nature of society and establish a clear definition and criteria for achieving suitable acoustic performance. In this case it would seem prudent to caveat “suitable” by reference to guidance and recommendations, whether issued by the Department or some recognised body e.g. in this case the Institute of Acoustics, Royal Institute of British Architects and Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers.
The challenge for each recognised authority issuing considered guidance is to develop mutually consistent and complementary guidance and not to develop conflicting requirements which might confound the potential positive aspects in other elements. In the past Building Bulletins, however imperfect, have attempted this balance and an expert panel similarly constituted and mandated as NICE in the medical world, would be a very powerful vehicle to collect and disseminate best practice and guidance around a framework as vague and challenging as this.
If this approach is adopted without some guidance and limitations then professional designers will be reduced to designing built environments, which are inappropriate for their intended use through the adoption of a suitable low standard to achieve a budget rather than the standard that maximises the efficacy of the built space as a learning space. This will in turn deliver inappropriate learning environments and poor value for taxpayers money spent on educational provision.
It is not clear how this consultation interacts with the work being undertaken by the Efficiency and Reform Unit within the Cabinet Office who are looking at the introduction of Building Information Modelling across the public sector. Any changes to the Schools Premises Regulations should be co-ordinated with that work.
To read the full CIBSE response, please follow the link below.