Premises and Accommodation
The Education Act 1996 places a duty on the Secretary of State to prescribe standards for the premises of all maintained schools in England and Wales. The previous standards were set out in the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999 (SPRs) and they applied to all existing and new schools maintained by a local authority (The Regulations apply to nursery, community, community special, foundation, foundation special and voluntary schools and to pupil referral units).
Similarly, the Education Act 2002 empowers the Secretary of State to prescribe standards for the premises of independent schools, which includes Academies and Free Schools. These were covered by Part 5 of The Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2010 (ISSs).
While there continue to be two sets of school premises regulations in place, they are now identical and apply to all types of school. This guidance sets out how to comply with these regulations, and therefore also applies to all types of schools.
School Premises Regulations
- From the 31st October 2012 the School Premises (England) Regulations 2012 will come into force in the maintained schools and pupil referral units that are the responsibility of Southampton City Council.
- The new regulations will also affect the building of new and the refurbishment of maintained schools in the council.
- There are fewer regulations than in the 1999 School Premises regulations, and they are less prescriptive, allowing schools more flexibility in how they use their premises.
- The School Premises Regulations 2012 specify minimum standards for the premises of all maintained schools in England.
- This includes nursery, community and community special schools, and to foundation, foundation special and voluntary schools and pupil referral units.
- The regulations cover the provision of the following:
- Pupil toilet and washing facilities
- Medical accommodation
- Health, safety and welfare
- Water supplies
- Outdoor space (this does not apply to pupil referral units)
- General health and safety of employees i.e. teachers and other school staff are covered by the duties contained in the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and associated regulations.
- Fire safety in schools will be under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which requires schools to undertake an annual fire risk assessment to identify the general fire precautions to safeguard the safety of occupants and their safe means of escape in case of fire.
- There is also a Department for Education (DfE) Standards for school premises Departmental advice for Local Authorities, school leaders and governing bodies of maintained schools Supplementary Guidance.
- The DfE departmental advice is non-statutory, and has been produced to help recipients to understand their obligations and duties in relation to the School Premises Regulations 2012.
- Other legislation on school premises is found in Part 3 and 5 of the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2010 as amended and these set standards for the premises of Independent schools including Academies and Free schools. These regulations came into force on the 1st January 2013. Please see note below which explains the amended regulations For Academy, Foundation, Trust and Voluntary-Aided Schools.
- Also the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets standards for pupils under the age of 5 at both maintained and independent schools. The revised, simpler framework for the EYFS was published on 27 March 2012, for implementation from 1 September 2012: EYFS framework 2012.
Note: The Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2010 as amended.
For Academy, Foundation, Trust and Voluntary-Aided Schools the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2010 as amended on the 1st January 2013 by the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 apply and are available on the DfE website.
These regulations set out 7 standards that apply to Academy, Foundation, Trust and Voluntary-Aided Schools in particular Part 3 Welfare, health and safety of pupils and Part 5 Premises of and accommodation at school.
Note: The content of the School Premises (England) Regulations 2012 (see above) is equally applicable to Academy, Foundation, Trust and Voluntary-Aided Schools.
- Further advice can be found in the following publications:
- The School Premises (England) Regulations 2012.
- Department for Education Standards for school premises Departmental advice for Local Authorities, School Leaders, and Governing Bodies: Supplementary guidance: Standards for school premises.
- The Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations as of Jan 2013