Building sustainable schools for the future

  Shortage of space is becoming a fundamental issue for many schools across the country. Recently, it was revealed one in six secondary schools are already at or over capacity, with forecasts predicting there will be more than 300,000 additional secondary school pupils by 2020. In particular, a shortage in pupil places is placing a huge burden on schools to increase classroom sizes, numbers and implement redevelopment projects to make better use of existing structures. With budgets under threat, finding the best building products to use at the right price and with minimal disruption to class time is no easy task. As a result, it may be tempting for school decision makers to deem the external finish of the building a low priority. However, in the long term, taking a sustainable view to the built environment can help to improve a school’s branding – something that is particularly important for independent schools carving out their own identity. If possible, time and effort should be implemented at the planning stage to ensure any renovation, repair or addition to a school’s environment is something that will enhance it for the foreseeable future, and not paper over the cracks in the short term. Despite some schools having the luxury of open land to build on, it is not always the most practical option. Urban schools, in particular, are often hardest hit due to increasingly unavailable or expensive city building space. As a solution, many schools have turned to building upwards. Adding floors increases the number of classrooms whilst eliminating the need to build on open land that is vital to be used as a sports or outdoor area. A lightweight and cost effective solution is brick slip cladding systems, which are ideal for this purpose. With a wide range of brick types and colours available, it is also possible to match any additions or changes with existing brickwork to complement a school’s identity. For older school buildings where heat loss and thermal insulation can be an issue, retrofitting external wall insulation with brick cladding can be a highly effective option too. Staff and pupils will immediately feel more comfortable, energy bills can be reduced and previously old and tired structures will be rejuvenated. When working to tight budgets, school decision makers must ensure any money spent is with the future of the school and its environment in mind. Using products with short life spans may seem attractive at first, but robust, low maintenance solutions that are reliable for decades to come will put the school in a better position. Here at Eurobrick Systems, we have worked with schools on their cladding projects for over 25 years and understand the pressures faced today. When working with restricted budgets in a school infrastructure, it is vital to work with the right suppliers who can maximise the environment available to get the best result for teachers and students alike.