A £1BN OPPORTUNITY TO DESIGN SCHOOLS OF THE FUTURE WITH MORE FLEXIBILITY

3 Dec 2020

The announcement of a transformative ten-year school rebuilding programme for England, at a time when school design is undergoing a more fundamental rethink as a result of the pandemic, means we have an unprecedented opportunity to adopt new approaches to the way our educational facilities are formed and function.

The prime minister announced in June that the new schools investment programme will start with £1bn in 2020-21 for 50 new schools, mainly in the North of England and Midlands, with a pledge to ‘make sure our schools and colleges are fit for the future, with better facilities and brand new buildings so that every child gets a world-class education’.

At the same time, architects, policy-makers and teachers are driving change in the way our school buildings are designed as they seek to maintain effective schooling whilst the Covid-19 risk prevails. A key dimension to this is making more use of outdoor space, equipping it in a way that makes it multi-purpose, including for outdoor lessons to be held.

Meryl Townley, a partner at van Heyningen and Haward Architects, and RIBA education ambassador, said recently: “The value of external spaces, and the importance of nature and exercise, are now fully acknowledged as being intrinsic to wellbeing as a result of Covid-19.  These spaces, which are often compromised, must be held onto within the briefs for schools and their use maximised.”

Social distancing and the desire for the open air will stay front of mind for many of us for a long time after the pandemic’s effects have subsided. This means we need to prepare our schools to be able to utilise their outdoor space whenever it is appropriate, whilst still ensuring we can continue to provide a safe, comfortable and technologically equipped space in which to do so.

Meeting these dual ‘flexibility’ and ‘infrastructure’ goals is easy with the range of retractable, in-ground and bollard units from Pop Up Power Supplies®. Its range of outdoor service units are already installed at schools, colleges and universities across the UK, enabling teachers, tutors and maintenance personnel to connect to electricity, gas, water, data and other essential services on-demand.

With pop up, retractable service units, the unit is simply raised from the ground when required, and once a lesson or activity is over it can be lowered with ease back into the ground – “there when you need it, hidden when you don’t”. These can be specified and configured as required, and their lids sit flush with the ground surface to be virtually unnoticeable when not in use.

The in-ground service units provide a different approach. Services such as power sockets are accessed via a flip lid, which allows cables to stay connected and in-use while the lid is locked down – great for additional safety and security. The flip lids of these units are recessed so they can accommodate any type of surface material, including paving, tarmac and grass.

The third option from Pop Up Power Supplies® comes with is a power bollard. These are elegantly designed bollards, available in five different styles and any RAL colour, can integrate with other exterior/street furniture to offer access to power and other services when required via a door on the bollard body.

All three options represent a reliable, safe and robust way to provide the infrastructure that is needed to make outdoor space on school premises flexible. By offering this increased utilisation of this currently under-used and under-valued space, teachers and school managers can think more creatively and move beyond the constraints of the classroom.

To find out more about the Pop Up Power Supplies® range visit www.popuppower.co.uk.