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Welcome to the introductory edition of the Education Buildings Journal Newsletter. We pride ourselves on providing the education sector with a forum to communicate and collaborate, and hope that through this regular newsletter you will enjoy the combination of the latest news and views from educational professionals.

July Issue

Natural Light for Natural Learning

Jill Couttie, VELUX Commercial

Several studies have shown that daylight is not only good for children’s overall health and wellbeing, but that it can also significantly improve academic performance.

One such study was ‘Impact of Lighting on School Performance in European Classrooms’ conducted by the Sorbonne University using SINPHONIE study data. It covered 13 European countries with a total of 2,387 children participating, concluding that academic performance can increase by up to 15% when students work in classrooms with larger windows – the positives of a  better view of the outside world and increased daylight.

The ‘Clever Classrooms’ study conducted by the University of Salford, concluded that good daylight helps to create a sense of physical and mental comfort demonstrating that benefits are far more reaching than merely an aid to sight.

Designing with Daylight

If outside lighting levels are low daylight does need to be supplemented by ample, high quality artificial lighting but where possible we should aim to make daylight the main source of lighting in schools.

When windows or skylights face north, the daylight entering a space tends to be softer and more diffused, with subtle changes in light levels and colour texture throughout the day. With other orientations sunlight enhances the overall brightness of interiors, with specific areas of concentrated light. The challenge of designing with daylight is particularly evident in deep-planned classrooms, where there is a considerable distance between windows and the back of the room. Here there is often a disparity in light levels – bright near the windows, and dark further back.

In situations where the shape or size of classrooms does not allow for adequate light levels throughout, and/or where the possibility of window space is limited, skylights are often the optimum solution. Where there is no direct access to the sky, light shafts are an effective alternative. A skylight typically provides more than twice the amount of daylight than a façade window of equal size.

Controlling Excessive Glare

Glare is created when areas that are ‘too bright’ are located within the field of view, or when the contrast ratio is high.  The recommended ‘luminance ratio’ between visual task and near surroundings is a 1:10 within the field of view ( This ratio is an expression of the ratio between the luminance distribution within the central vision and the peripheral vision). The orientation of the windows can help control glare and contrast. Larger expanses of glazing could face north which allows diffused daylight to penetrate throughout the day/year. The installation of blinds can also help control daylight levels as can permanent external shading.

Find Out More

Our new CPD offers a review of the latest regulatory changes in the design and construction of education buildings specifically relating to roof lights. The regulatory changes include the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) Facilities Output Specification (FOS) 2017, BREEAM 2018 and the New European Standard Daylight of Buildings EN 17037. This CPD will help you to understand the following topics:

  • The ESFA Facilities Output Specification relating to roof lights
  • The changes in BREEAM 2018 relating to roof lights
  • The new European Standard EN 17037 relating to roof lights
  • How to specify roof lights for education buildings and meet the requirements of the above documents

Book a RIBA-approved VELUX Commercial CPD

Creating Comfortable Schools


Last August, the Education and Skills Funding Agency published a revised version of Building Bulletin 101 (BB101) Guidelines on ventilation, thermal comfort and indoor air quality in schools. In addition to summarising relevant regulations and standards, the document also provides best practice guidance on how these issues should be addressed within school design. One of the most notable changes within the document is a new adaptive approach to how thermal comfort is measured and addressed.

Measuring Thermal Comfort

Thermal comfort is defined as when a person feels neither too hot nor too cold. It is affected not only by environmental factors such as the air temperature, but also personal factors such as clothing and health. As a result, within any given space there can be a wide divergence in opinion on whether it is hot, cold or just right. To estimate the thermal comfort of all students and staff, BB101 uses a version of the adaptive thermal comfort standards within BS EN ISO 7730:2005 – Ergonomics of the thermal environment.

BB101 uses two indices to estimate thermal comfort: predicted mean vote (PMV) and percentage people dissatisfied (PPD). PMV considers a number of personal and environmental factors to generate a score on a seven-point comfort scale (from hot +3 to cold -3). The PPD is then calculated from this score with the percentage of people dissatisfied exponentially increasing as PMV moves away from 0.

BB101 provides a list of recommended operative temperatures for different spaces within a school during the heating season. Outside of this period, it uses an adaptive approach, changing the maximum indoor temperature from day-to-day based on external temperatures.

It is simpler and more cost effective to maintain internal temperatures if the building is well insulated.

Building Insulation

Whatever approach is taken, the building fabric will play an important role in allowing internal temperatures to be maintained at a constant level.

With a wide range of insulation options available, it’s important to carefully consider which solution is most suitable for any given project.

Looking beyond standard U-valve requirements, considerations can be made towards the latest generation of phenolic insulation products and vacuum insulation panels ( VIPs)

Kingspan Kooltherm K100 range boards have a thermal conductivity of just 0.018 W/m·K, allowing desired U-values to be met with slim constructions.

Design Clarity 

With projections suggesting summer heatwaves are likely to become the norm within the next two decades as a result of climate change, it is key that our schools are designed to manage both summer heat and winter chills. The adaptive approach outlined within BB101 offers a sensible route to designing and constructing schools which provide comfortable environments for staff and students.

Kingspan OPTIM-R Vacuum Insulation Panel (VIP) systems can also provide a problem-solving solution in refurbishment applications where construction depths must be minimal.

Being human

ATKINS – Helen Groves

As designers, wellbeing is a topic very close to our hearts. At the end of the day we are designing for human beings and our approach must reflect this.

It is impossible to design spaces and places for people without holding this tenet at the heart of what we do. I believe that a holistic approach to architecture, one that encapsulates the varied world in which we live, is the only way to design for today’s schools, colleges and universities.

We should strive to create new buildings and environments that:

  • Set New Standards – Let’s always be looking to step up and improve. This isn’t just about creating shiny new buildings for universities, but rather about creating vessels and locations that can be shaped and re-created for the unfolding activities of their users. We must get away from the fascination with the image, the icon, and remember that universities are first and foremost there to nurture thought, learning and research, and not architectural playgrounds.
  • Are Beautiful to Use – Beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder, but rather it is made up of a number of strands including human physiological and psychological responses. Buildings that create joy, be it overt or more subtle, act as magnets to those who use them. Especially in educational settings, there is no ‘one size fits all’ and we must have the conviction to fight against the homogenisation of space.
  • Have a Positive Social Purpose – Education is one of the most positive social drivers. However we must consider the whole community, not just those who sit within the formal university group. Welcoming all into university spaces is a powerful driver for social engagement, and the way we design for this must transcend the basic needs of perceived security to encourage the wider inclusion in our society.
  • Challenge Convention – It is not enough to stick to the status quo. When approaching a new design, the assumptions must be pared back to those affecting the human condition, rather than those that were used on the previous job. This is as true for clients as it is for designers: we are never going to create spaces and environments that suit the specific condition if we don’t make the effort to stop, look and truly listen. This takes an effort of will on all sides but the rewards are self-evident. By adopting a ‘Design for Performance’ rather than a ‘Design by Input Brief’ approach, we will create spaces that are wrapped around the needs of the people who are using them.
  • Strike the Perfect Balance – This is something that enhances great spaces from the pedestrian day to day. The art of creating places which welcome their users and make them feel part of the whole will effortlessly nurture their psychological and physiological needs.

Uplifting the spirit is not rocket science: it is what design teams can and should challenge themselves to do every day. Let’s remember that we are designing for human beings and that wellbeing is a crucial component to our work.

Welcome to HEDQF

LSE/HEDQF – Julian Robinson

As Chair of the Higher Education Design Quality Forum (HEDQF), I was delighted to be asked to contribute to the first edition of the Education Estates newsletter. We have developed an excellent partnership with Education Estates and are now a significant supporter and indeed contributor to their popular conference which is held in Manchester every year.

Those outside the HE sector may not be familiar with who we are or what we do so by way of introduction I’ll try and explain. HEDQF is committed to promoting high quality design in the HE sector. We are a growing and vibrant organisation and aim to be the ‘leading voice’ on university design. We provide a repository of guidance, a data base of building information, good practice and research, all of which is collated and moderated by a network of highly experienced and respected professionals.

Charitable Promotional Work

We are an independent charity that works to promote and advance higher education. We strongly value our uniquely diverse membership which comprises of representatives from policy makers, university academic and professional staff, university students, design professionals of all disciplines and constructors.

HEDQF is essentially run by volunteers but what unites us all is a passion for great design and a firm conviction that great design leads to better outcomes whether related to learning outcomes, inspirational and memorable university experiences or indeed better mental health and wellbeing.

Events Programme

Over the last few years, with thanks to the work of our trustees and the support of our members and sponsors, we have become an incredibly energetic organisation. Our ever popular events programme evidenced by the 175 attendees at our Annual Conference held at the University of Edinburgh on 18 June, is second to none in the higher education sector. Our international study tour to Barcelona in May of this year was completely oversubscribed and we are planning to undertake a repeat run in the autumn.

Our Building Reference visits to university buildings have this year included the universities of Nottingham, Southampton, UCL (Stratford), Birmingham City, Portsmouth and Edinburgh.

We have held seminars and debates on the following topics:

  • What makes a high performance building?
  • Improving efficiency without compromising design
  • Designing to improve student mental health.

Research Investments 

Our proven successes allow us to commission research aimed at improving the design of spaces and places for students and staff. This year alone we have invested £30,000 in research initiatives.

We have commissioned two student surveys in conjunction with Learning Spaces Toolkit. We’ve investigated student views on student life and what makes a great campus, explored social learning spaces and provided designers and clients a compendium of best practice. In addition to this we have appointed an early stage researcher from Reading University to scope future key research themes pertaining to learning environments within university estates.


We have also been busy on the communications front. To find out more about what we do and how we can benefit your organisation, please visit our brand new website which was officially launched on 18 June! If you go to you will find all the latest news, information on how to join HEDQF, research papers, films, building data sheets and lots more.

Connecting People, Places and Learning

Scottish Futures Trust – Stephen Long


Since 2010 the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland has encouraged collaborative, connected learning and teaching, and in parallel Scotland’s ‘Schools for the Future Programme’ has delivered 117 new and refurbished buildings which support this approach. The degree of connectivity between learning spaces, interaction between age groups, opportunities for intergenerational engagement, links between public services and the connections between buildings and the outdoors have all increased.

Many new school buildings have moved away from traditional corridors and closed classrooms and also incorporate open study booths, small group breakout spaces and learning plazas where multi subject collaborations are encouraged.  In some locations all age campuses have been developed integrating learners from 2-18 (or arguably 102?), reducing the transitions between educational stages and offering a wider range of facilities, teaching expertise and mentoring opportunities.

Whole Community Interaction

Other school buildings have combined public services such as community libraries, encouraging all age interaction and providing additional literacy support to the school by having library staff in the building. Leisure facilities are increasingly used by the whole community, either out of hours or, where appropriate, concurrently with school use to maximise the utilisation and offer wider access. Other public services such as Community Learning and Development (CLD), Social Work, the Police and the NHS have also been co-located to provide a rich blend of user focussed services and facilities.

Digital connectivity has also increased dramatically and now supports linkages between schools, with colleges and universities, and with industry partners. Dispersed island communities have become highly connected and support a wide range of online curriculum delivery across Scotland and internationally. Working in partnership with businesses has provided a wide range of opportunities including catering, hospitality, automotive maintenance, roofing and financial services.  Connections between the schools in one town have been enhanced by aligning timetables, sharing staff and offering an enhanced specialist subject range in a central shared learning hub.

Learning From the Feedback

These multi layered connections have opened up personal, local and national communications which in turn have resulted in wide ranging collaboration. Feedback from young people, teachers, parents and the wider community has been very positive, and often refers to the breadth of creative and supportive opportunities which develop when connections are nurtured. A series of videos illustrating some of these projects are available on the SFT website.

Learnings from these projects has been collated and has helped to inform the approach to the next generation of learning environments. In November 2018 the Scottish Government committed to co-develop a Learning Estate Strategy with local authority partners. The forthcoming strategy ‘Connecting People, Places and Learning’ seeks to combine many strands of Scottish Government policy including the ‘Place Principle’ which aims to maximise the impact of shared services. The strategy also references ‘A Connected Scotland’ tackling loneliness and building stronger social connections. ‘Learning Together’ encourages parental and family engagement and involvement.

In addition, ‘Out to Play’ promotes the advantages of connecting children and young people to the natural outdoor environment. Future investment will develop projects to demonstrate the additional benefit through which increased connection, communication and collaboration can deliver. Lessons learned from these projects will be disseminated to other developing projects and continue to promote a culture of continual improvement.

The Education Buildings Scotland Conference to be held in Edinburgh in November will explore the theme of ‘Connecting People, Places and Learning’ through a series of presentations, workshops, and project showcases. Supported by a wide ranging exhibition hosted by suppliers, designers, contractors and public sector partners we look forward to making valuable links towards whole community collaborations.

For more information and to register for Education Buildings Scotland CLICK HERE.

Now is Not the Time to Protect the Family Silver!

ARCADIS – Mel Manku

Across the Higher Education (HE) sector we are seeing some universities surge ahead with investment programmes. However there are others, including Russell Group members, who are placing an element of their plans on hold. The latter is largely linked to market uncertainty and the assurance that they maintain contingency funds for major projects that are live on site already, rather than committing to additional expenditure.

Nevertheless, there are more ‘vulnerable’ universities which simply cannot afford to invest. These universities are also deeply concerned over the impact that the recommended reduction of student fees will have on their income, and hence potential survival in a crowded marketplace.

There is therefore a need to think differently and be more flexible in the consideration of longer term solutions. Through the convergence of sector providers, sources of finance and wider arrangements can be established.

Many universities (and Further Education (FE) colleges) hold land and built assets which are surplus to their needs giving rise to mixed tenure solutions with various funding/revenue provisions. These options would help to support regeneration, investment and HE/FE survival in the locations that it is needed. Now is not the time to protect the family silver but instead be bold in developing a strategy to respond to these regional educational needs. Creating a closer industry/employer engagement and delivering a stronger balance sheet (supported by a rationalised estates portfolio) can secure and sustain institutional legacy.

There are emerging moves towards city centre Knowledge Quarters and regeneration – both of which are being proactively driven with universities and local authorities as a catalyst. Combining this with increased industry links and co-occupation, a number of science parks are promoting the same collaboration.

Opportunities to benefit the rising need for key worker accommodation and social housing could be delivered alongside student residential schemes when working with developers to secure focus on infrastructure finance and investment.

It is time to think differently, do differently and above all operate differently.

Mel Manku

Partner, UK Regional Sector Leader, Science & Education

Schools to Support Housing Growth

Department for Education – Michael Lea

The Department for Education Free Schools programme has delivered 520 new schools since 2011. Whilst the delivery of a pipeline of schools continues, the programme has been refined to deliver new waves of schools in areas where the pupil places are most needed and to support social mobility across the country.

Whilst continuing to support the delivery of centrally funded free schools, the DfE Planning Team is working on new initiatives to identify sites and secure capital funding for schools to support the Government’s aspiration for 300,000 new homes each year.

I believe that a collaborative approach between central government, local authorities and house builders is critical to realising new schools and school expansions alongside housing growth. These schools can contribute to creating and sustaining the local community, with multi-use spaces being made available to local sport and social groups outside of school hours.

Developer Contributions to Education

In April we published guidance for local authorities (LAs) on securing developer contributions towards education. The advice is intended to:

  • Identify the components of a robust evidence base of the need for school places arising from new housing
  • Encourage a more collaborative approach between planning, property and education leads/officers within local authorities
  • Result in greater consistency in how contributions are sought, through the local plan framework and on individual applications

The overarching aim is to ensure that education is at the centre of local debate on infrastructure requirements and funding. We believe that developer contributions should play a key role in the delivery of new school places for which the need is generated by housing development.

The new guidance is referenced by the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government in its latest Planning Practice Guidance (PPG), as is DfE guidance on Education Provision in Garden Communities. Both documents can be found here.

Developer Loans for Schools

Delivering schools at the right time and in locations which meet the need for school places generated by new housing can be challenging. DfE is launching a forward loan facility for developers, to bring forward the delivery of new schools.

‘Developer Loans for Schools’ directly addresses cash flow constraints to enable timely school delivery and earlier completion of new housing. Capital loans will be open to housing developers to construct new primary, secondary or all-through schools where DfE and the local authority agree the need for the places.

We have sought the views of the housebuilding sector and are confident that these loans will provide a clear incentive to progress developments. The presence of a school helps to sell new homes, and contributes to the successful masterplanning of a mix of land uses alongside housing.

A prospectus for the developer loans will be available shorty. In the meantime, please contact our team at for more information.

Michael Lea will be speaking about DfE’s work to deliver schools to support housing growth at the Education Estates Conference in Manchester this October.

Education Estates® – The Lineup 2019

Education Estates® 15-16 October at Manchester Central focuses on the funding, design, build, management and maintenance of primary & secondary schools, colleges and universities across the UK.

Education Estates® has: 100+ exhibitors, 150+ speakers, 5 Stages, 2000+ attendees & 6 interactive feature areas.

Education Estates® this year features 5 parallel conference stages:

  • Schools
  • Colleges & Universities
  • Good Estate Management & Facilities Management
  • Architecture & Interiors
  • Building Performance & Energy Efficiency.

All stages are free to attend by those employed directly by schools, colleges, universities, and early years settings. The Schools, Colleges & Universities and Good Estate Management & Facilities Management stages require a delegate fee for commercial or private sector professionals.

Think of a Number

Keynote speakers this year include Mike Green, Director General of the Department for Education, and Lara Newman, Chief Executive of LocatEd, both of whom will open the event on 15th October.  There is something a bit different on the programme on the second day in the form of an afternoon keynote presentation by the mathematics legend Johnny Ball, taking us all back to the classroom with:  Wonders Beyond Numbers – a Brief History of All Things Mathematical.

Educational Achievements 

The Department for Education is a long standing supporter of Education Estates®, and this year will be contributing to a number of sessions in the conference. They  will be focusing on building performance, modern methods of construction, results of the Condition Data Collection (CDC), and estate management as well as  strategic planning for new schools.

Rory Kennedy, Head of Capital at DfE will give a keynote presentation on the first day of the event plus DfE will also have a stand in the exhibition enabling attendees to speak directly to DfE experts. The DfE Sustainability Award will be announced at the events dinner and awards ceremony which will be held at the Principal Manchester on Tuesday 15th October, recognising excellence and achievement in the education industry.

Tailoring the Key Issues

The event is also fortunate to have links with other key groups including the Higher Education Design and Quality Forum (HEDQF), the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and LocatEd — all of whom will be delivering tailored sessions within the conference.

The conference programme is overseen by a group of education professionals from a range of backgrounds: architects, contractors, estates and facilities directors, and government representatives.  This group identifies the key issues and areas that the education sector is facing and the programme will reflect those topics by providing information and expertise to give delegates necessary information.

We’ll be looking at examples of best practice, solutions and case studies all of which will inform and guide delegates in the challenges that they face in their education setting.

What to Expect

Within the main conference streams, subjects that will be covered this year are wide ranging, covering a number of topics relevant across the education sector, or specific to a particular level of education provision.

Schools stage: Talks from RIBA on planning, building and refurbishing schools, innovation and delivering value. Additional talks focus on design for manufacture and assembly, school buildings across the UK, and a look at mixed use sites and high-rise schools.

Colleges & Universities stage: HEDQF will address the future of the sector with a   session dedicated to the college education setting. Student accommodation and the wellbeing of students will be discussed.  Funding is an important topic that will be covered along with technology in the estate. Universities as urban regenerators will also be debated.

Good Estate Management & Facilities Management stage: There will be a session from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). Other key topics include planning, legionella control and security and access. The Department for Education is running a workshop on ‘Good Estate Management’ as well as presenting the results of the Condition Data Survey.

Architecture & Interiors stage: Hosting a discussion on use of art in education, special education needs, interiors, technology, project showcases, and offsite construction.

Building Performance & Energy Efficiency stage will cover sustainability, energy saving, and a session on reduce, reuse, recycle.

Conference speakers come from a range of backgrounds, all with direct expertise in the funding, design, build, management and maintenance of education facilities.  Conference and visitor places can be booked at, and don’t forget – the early booking rate – where it applies, runs until 3 September.

Within our continuously evolving industry we shall endeavour to keep you abreast of all the latest happenings. If you would like to feature within one of our future newsletters please do contact our Content Consultant who will happily liaise all things editorial with you.