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Secondary Schools

Secondary 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.

Secondary School; (ages 11-16) to statutory school leaving age but often with a Sixth form or post 16 group (ages 11-18):

  • Key Stage 3 (ages 11-14): Years 7 & 8
  • Key Stage 4 (ages 14-16): Years 9 – 11
  • Key Stage 5 (ages 16-18): Years 12 & 13

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 governors and others in the client group appreciate what is involved in looking after and developing the buildings in which children are educated and staff work. It may also be of interest to groups involved in other areas.

The following are related documents:

DCSF & EH: Refurbishing historic school buildings (External link)The principle guidance related to the design of Secondary schools is DfES Building Bulletin 98 which sets out the briefing framework and area guidance. See the commentary to the BB98 document below.

This Bulletin contains a substantial amount of descriptive guidance across all its pages providing background and depth to all aspects of Secondary school functionality and design. It is recognised as a principal reference document in this sector and the temptation to just refer to example area schedules out of context should be strongly avoided.

However, DfES revised its guidance in 2009 to show how it could be used in the design of schools supporting transformational education strategies. (see commentary on BB98 for details of the revised guidance).

These recommendations also apply to accommodation for Secondary phases in an all-through school setting but not for a Secondary Special school or a specially resourced unit (attached to a Secondary school) where Building Bulletin 102 would be the appropriate guidance source.

A number of separate Building Bulletins provide guidance to specialist Secondary curriculum areas e.g. Art or Music etc., and these are listed under the ‘Design Guidance by Topic’ section.