Transforming Schools Across Kent and London Through School Refurbishment

The design and refurbishment of schools and other learning environments, just like Kent and London office design, has continued to evolve over the years. Like office refurbishment school refurbishment is about creating an environment that is inspiring, fosters creativity, allows for flexibility, enables different working/learning styles and prioritises wellbeing.

A well thought out and well-designed school refurbishment and fit out can play a vital role in providing a learning environment that is welcoming, inspiring and encourages creativity. The right design can also encourage a sense of community. The design should be in keeping with the building’s architecture and government guidance and should consider everything from creating a good first impression, the layout, the materials used, colour scheme and decor, furniture, temperature, lighting and safety.

Kent and London School Refurbishment Key Areas To Consider

When it comes to school refurbishment and fit out there are a number of key areas that need to be considered.

Creating the Right First Impression

In many cases the design of the school reception area tends to be overlooked and is usually a simple office behind a glass partition. However, the school reception area provides a great opportunity to present a school in a way that highlights its values.

By incorporating the school colours and utilising other complimentary colours as well as drawings or murals, a school reception can be made to stand out and help to provide a welcoming area into the school that makes the right first impression.

Flexible Classroom Layouts

Classrooms layouts need to allow for flexibility to support the needs of students. This includes creating spaces that can adapt to changing needs and different learning requirements. Different desk and seating setups can be configured into zones for different activities which allow students to choose where they sit and work.

Flexible seating can help to provide multiple seating choices which can enhance pupils learning, wellbeing, physical support and comfort for a variety of different tasks. This includes traditional chairs as well as bean bags and bean bag chairs, floor cushions, posture wedges, floor mats and stools.

Other areas should provide facilities for pupils to come together for collaboration or social interaction through the use of partitions and modular and flexible furniture that can be easily moved, adapted and reconfigured to suit different learning need and tasks.

Transitional Spaces

The spaces between classrooms and between the classroom and outdoors that pupils pass through as they move through the school and outside are often ignored. Given that on average 25% of school space is taken up by corridors and other transitional spaces it’s worth looking at these spaces again. Rather than seeing transitional space as only a way of getting from A to B look at these spaces to see what they can offer e.g. can they provide an additional teaching space, breakout or quiet area or simply an extension of the formal classroom?

It may be that transitional spaces can only be used to highlight direction of travel or to showcase work but by adding these areas to your whole school fit out you can make them part of the whole school design.

Sustainability

A school refurbishment is the ideal time to look at being more sustainable and energy efficient. Given the increasing awareness of climate change, the higher cost of energy and the UK government’s target of achieving net zero by 2050 there are many ways a school fit out can make sustainability and energy efficiency improvements.

When undergoing a school refurbishment consider how you can reuse, recycle and repair any materials that are being used in your refurbishment. It’s also important to consider the materials being used in your new school design to ensure that they have good sustainability credentials. Understand how to “sustainably” dispose of the old school materials being removed from your chosen building space. All materials that are being stripped out need to be handled and disposed of correctly.

Being energy efficient also plays a major part in being sustainable. To make your school as energy efficient as possible reducing energy consumption is vital. By investing in energy efficient lighting and heating systems schools can save money on energy bills and reduce their environmental impact.

Integrating Technology

Technology can play a vital role in classrooms and in the learning environment so it’s important to have a clear idea of what technology will be required to meet your school’s objectives and curriculum goals when classrooms are being designed. There’s no one size fits all, technology requirements will be different from school to school.

As a starting point the DfE provides digital and technology standards guidance to schools to help make informed decisions about which technologies to incorporate which will “lead to safer, more cost-efficient practices and new learning opportunities for students.”

Acoustics

Schools can be very noisy environments and this can impact student learning, especially where open plan classrooms are part of the layout, so it’s important to consider acoustics during the design phase.

There are a number of different solutions that can help to reduce noise. Suspended ceilings can help to absorb noise and lessen reverberation. Acoustic screens, dividers, ceiling baffles or panels for walls and ceilings can act as barriers to stop noise from travelling to adjacent classrooms or other areas. Nowadays acoustic panels can be shaped to add a fun finish to a room. Plant or moss walls can also provide a playful way of incorporating the outside world inside while providing an acoustic barrier. Using soft flooring materials such as carpets, rather than hard surfaces like wood can help to reduce “footfall” noise.

The UK government sets out the minimum standards in terms of performance that schools are expected to meet with regards to acoustic design of schools.

Lighting, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning

Lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) all play an important role in the school environment.

A school refurbishment is the perfect time to ensure good quality lighting is factored into the school and classroom design. Good lighting is vital to student learning and wellbeing and can be important to pupil performance by reducing eye strain and headaches. When it comes to lighting it’s important to be aware of and avoid screen glare and flicker, and to ensure uniformity of illuminance, good colour contrast and colour rendering.

Wherever possible natural light should be factored into your school design and where natural light isn’t available other lighting should be carefully designed for the learning environment. Full-spectrum natural light bulbs which most closely replicate the visual colour spectrum that natural light contains or LED bulbs with higher correlated colour temperature (CCT) values should be used.

Thermal comfort and air quality are also important in schools. An efficient HVAC system can instantly improve the energy performance of your school while ensuring temperature and air quality can be efficiently controlled throughout the year. We know that when temperature and humidity are too high or too low they can seriously impact a pupil’s ability to concentrate and learn and can also directly affect the health and wellbeing of students.

Guidance on climate-based daylight design for schools and lighting, and ventilation is available via the government website.

Washroom Facilities

A refurbishment of school toilet facilities can provide many benefits. In primary schools the use of bright colours in line with school branding and bathroom doors with colourful prints make for a welcoming environment.

The use of hygienic splash backs and cladding and non-slip vinyl helps to keep bathrooms clean and germ free and can help to reduce the spread of germs and viruses which can cause illness. A clean and fresh looking washroom can also play a role in promoting health and cleanliness. A well-designed washroom can also emphasise comfort and privacy.

When looking to refurbish washrooms it’s also important to take account of accessibility and comply with accessibility standards to ensure they accommodate students with special needs or disabilities.

Staff Facilities

When it comes to school refurbishments the emphasis is placed on pupil areas and making sure that the learning environment is enhanced. However, the physical and mental wellbeing of staff is vital to the functioning of all schools so the staffroom and other staff facilities should also be an important consideration of a school refurbishment.

According to Schools Week “Teachers had the highest increase in stress.. in 2022”, “across the UK, 78 per cent of education staff reported being stressed” and “more than a third (36 per cent) reported experiencing burn-out, up nine per cent on last year. Half of staff experienced insomnia or difficulty sleeping, a six percentage point rise.” To tackle this staff, need areas where they can work, relax, reenergise and take a break. Creating a staffroom where comfort is key will go a long way to helping staff unwind. Having comfortable furniture and using calm colour schemes and incorporating plants and other natural elements can help to make the staffroom an inviting and stress-free environment.

Outdoor Spaces

Biophilia, the love of the outdoors applies just as much, if not more to children as it does to adults. Nature can also have a calming, soothing effect on children so it’s important to incorporate natural elements indoors and utilise outdoor school spaces wherever possible.

Classrooms don’t just exist indoors. Investing in a school’s playground, garden or courtyard space can provide pupils and staff with valuable opportunities to engage with nature and provide valuable learning environments as well as improving mental health. Eco friendly outdoor furniture can be utilised to create outdoor classrooms or break areas.

Security and Safety

Pupil and staff security and safety should always be a priority when it comes to a school refurbishment.

If work is ongoing while the school is occupied there must be strict separation of areas undergoing refurbishment and school areas in use by staff and pupils. Where work is being undertaken outside of the school calendar the school appropriate measures should be taken to ensure no unauthorised staff have access to the school or work areas. Suitable security measures including building access controls should be implemented to ensure safety. 

Any building and refurbishment work needs to meet building regulations and environmental standards. Any work to be carried out will need to have the right planning permission and insurance, the appropriate surveys are carried out and fire safety and onsite health and safety are in place.

A school fit out might also include new access controls to ensure the safety of pupils. Implementing visitor management through access control, putting in place perimeter security and CCTV as well as intruder alarms can prevent unauthorised access to the school grounds and classroom areas, keeping staff and pupils protected within the school.

Budget and Timeline

A school refurbishment can be a major investment for any school and as such must take into account all aspects of the refurbishment so that it can be budgeted for appropriately. Keeping to timelines is important as any overruns are likely to cost more money. In order to stay on budget and on time considered and careful planning and clear communication with your school refurbishment partner and contractor will be vital.  

Planning Your School Refurbishment and Fit Out With JBH Refurbishments

JBH Refurbishments have over 30+ years’ experience in Kent and London school refurbishment and school maintenance.

We work with schools, academies and colleges across the South East and London to improve their learning environments, as well as providing practical public areas and washrooms facilities.

We have a tried and tested process which takes your school refurbishment project from site visit and inspection to planning and visual drawings through to completed refurbishment:

  • We’ll visit your school and carry out a detailed inspection of the area you wish to refurbish. We’ll listen to your requirements and provide advice and expertise in what would work best for your school.
  • Based the site visit and your brief we’ll provide a comprehensive quote with a breakdown of all costs. We‘ll be on hand to discuss the quotation and answer any questions you may have.
  • On approval of the quote, we’ll start the planning phase of the project. We’ll prepare CAD drawings so that you can “visualise” what your school space will look like before you commit to any changes and before any work is carried out.
  • Once the plans are approved a date for the work to begin will be set.
  • We’ll provide you with a dedicated project manager who will be your main point of contact throughout the project and who will be responsible for keeping you updated and liaising with you. Keeping to the agreed schedule is our priority and we’ll work closely with you to ensure that each stage of the project is running smoothly and that your refurbishment is on time and on budget.
  • Once the work is completed your project manager will meet with you to ensure you are satisfied with the work that has been carried out.

Our school refurbishment services range from complete interior fit outs for new builds and extensions, to small classroom refurbishments and washroom fit outs. Here’s a selection of the school refurbishment services we provide:

  • Layout planning and interior design – including CAD design and 3D image generation.
  • Complete interior fit out, including mechanical (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), electrical and plumbing.
  • Interior reconfigurations – removal/installation of walls.
  • Room/office partitioning – glazed, partially glazed, stud wall, jumbo wall installations, moving walls (sliding, folding, concertina).
  • Mezzanine floor installation (including full structural survey).
  • Washroom fit out with all furnishings and cubicles.
  • Classroom fit out – strip out to fit out and furnishing.
  • Reception room fit out – strip out to fit out and furnishing including bespoke reception furniture.
  • Offices/meeting room installation or refurbishment.
  • Furniture supply and fit.
  • Storage solutions.

You can view a small selection of our school refurbishment projects in our school portfolio section.

JBH Refurbishments, School Refurbishment Experts

We understand what’s required to carry out a school refurbishment to the highest standards. We can provide the right expertise for your project. Contact us via our contact form or by calling us on 0333 207 0339 today for a free on-site consultation.


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