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Primary Schools

Primary Schools

School design guidance is generally specifically written for different types of school separately and it is important to understand which type of school, or combination of types, the design Brief is being written for.

The type of school may affect its Vision and Ethos and will affect the required space standards.

Primary School; (ages 5-11) Primary school years are classified from the statutory school starting age of 5. Many primary schools also provide a nursery class for 3-4 year olds (not statutory) which forms part of the Foundation Phase of education. (ages 3-7) and has its own curriculum framework.

The Primary school curriculum is managed in key stages;

  • Foundation phase (ages 3-7):
    • Nursery (3-4)
    • Reception (4-5)
    • Key Stage 1: Years 1 & 2 (infants; ages 5-7)

There is a statutory upper limit of 30 pupils in individual Reception & Infants classes.

Key Stage 2 Years 3 – 6 (juniors; ages 7-11)

Guidance on approaching the briefing and management process of any school design is provided in several documents relating to both design quality and space standards. In each, the overriding importance of the client stakeholder group and the Vision and Ethos of the school which drives the design, is made strongly. For Primary schools, including refurbishment as well as new schools;

RIBA: Client Guide to Developing School Buildings: (Third edition of Guide for School Governors) (external link)

This guide, previously published under the title The Guide for School Governors is intended to help school governors and others in the client group appreciate what is involved in looking after and developing the buildings in which our children are educated. It may also be of interest to groups involved in Flying Start Children's Centre projects and Early Years facilities.

CABE: 10 criteria for successful school design. Written for the English Secondary BSF programme, the criteria are also relevant to any school design appraisal. Please read the following briefing section for more information:

The principle guidance related to the design of primary schools is DfES Building Bulletin 99 (2nd edition) which sets out the briefing framework and English area guidance. However, the different circumstances in Wales require an increase in the recommended minimum areas for the Foundation phase over those indicated in the bulletin. See the commentary to BB99.

In small rural schools there may be a mix of nursery and reception pupils as well as other mixed-year groupings. Class groups will still generally accommodate up to 30 pupils in mixed age settings; e.g. a 105 place school with nursery may have only four classrooms but is likely to still need access to a large space of at least 140sq.m to accommodate 30 junior pupils for PE. That hall size would also allow for future expansion.

These recommendations also apply to accommodation for Foundation and Primary phases in an All-Through School setting but not for a Primary Special school or a specially resourced unit (attached to a Primary school) where Building Bulletin 102 would be the appropriate guidance.

You may find the following links and documents useful: