New Schools

When establishing design concept, ensure that following principles for good design have been considered:

Identity and context

The entrance should be where it is safest for children. On new schools layouts should aim to have a pedestrian realm which links with footways/cycleway rather than a conventional car dominated street. Entrances and approach to the building should be legible from the public realm.

If located at the front, the building should provide a high quality civic presence, address the street and create an active frontage. Create a building that users and community can be proud of.

Site plan

Proposals should make the best use of the site. The form and position of the buildings and external spaces should respond to a thorough appraisal of the visual, physical and environmental characteristics of the site and surrounding area.

School grounds

Proposals should maximise the potential of the outdoor spaces. Consideration to the siting and design of sport and recreation facilities such as sports halls, school halls, MUGAs, playing fields, informal recreation areas in order to encourage formal and informal activity by pupils and community users. As well as conventional facilities provided on school sites, sport and recreation provision guidance could consider opportunities such as trim trails, orienteering/running routes, using mounds for viewing activity and as cross country running routes, cycle trails. Details guidance on this is in SE’s PE and Sport guidance.

Site Organisation

Create functional and clear layout. Create well organised and generous circulation which can provide community access for out-of-hours where appropriate.

The school should be designed to encourage community access outside of school hours to maximise opportunities for the community to use the school’s facilities for physical activity and sport i.e. relationship of reception to school hall, MUGA, playing field etc, provision of toilets/changing that are accessible to reception etc.


If located at the front, the three dimensional modelling of the building (i.e. varying heights, setbacks and projections) should play a deliberate role in the street scene.

Create sympathetic integration of new buildings into the existing natural and built environment.

Proposed building materials should be durable, sustainable and respond to and complement the context.


Create spaces that are well proportioned, fit for purpose and meet the learning and teaching needs of the users. Provide appropriate levels of natural light and ventilation that offer overall good environmental conditions.

Create a flexible design that will facilitate changes in policy and technology allowing expansion or contraction where appropriate.

Robust and Adaptable

  • Create a building that can adapt and evolve in the future.
  • Sport England’s ‘Use our School Toolkit’ should be referenced in relation to the management of community use as this is a one stop shop for resources to assist schools with community use.

Cost effectiveness

Create a building with excellent value whole-life cost performance.

Page updated: 22/10/2019

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