CLEAPSS Have Concerns Over Newly Built and Refurbished Science Facilities
New report details many issues in Science facilities in schools
A brief report on the experience of some schools with new science facilities by CLEAPSS has revealed that the new accommodation fails to live up to the promises made about them and even, in some cases, to equal those that have been replaced.
- Inadequate size of rooms;
- Unhelpful layout of science suites;
- Lab designs which do not lend themselves to class practical work;
- A reduction, from the traditional calculation, in the total number of labs provided;
- Inadequate storage provision;
- Inadequate ventilation arrangements; and
- Insufficiently robust furniture.
Examples to illustrate these concerns are:
- Cupboards in labs where doors are broken from their hinges within weeks of occupancy;
- Inadequate, or no, locks on secure cupboards;
- The prep room and main chemical store turning out to have been sited at opposite ends of a long corridor;
- A large planned prep room being turned into a non-science classroom with a smaller room on the floor above the main science labs becoming designated as the prep room;
- Labs with no provision for storing students coats and bags;
- Labs with the required number of gas taps crammed into one corner of the room because of a failure to understand how gas taps are used;
- Installing smoke detectors in labs; and
- Lights controlled by motion sensors so that a technician working at a bench for a period of time is plunged into darkness.
The full report is available for CLEAPSS members to download HERE
Among the quoted reasons for these inadequacies are:
- A failure to consult adequately with science staff at the planning stage;
- Where consultation with science staff had taken place, the outcomes were not carried forward into the final build;
- Architects or designers simply ignoring the needs of the science department;
- An excess of zeal about new technologies;
- Poor laboratory and prep room design, such as labs with no provision for fume cupboards on the assumption that a mobile fume cupboard could be utilised; and
- Poor building practice.
From the report:
"CLEAPSS is concerned that without the necessary time to consider proposals for science, schools will end up with facilities that do not promote, or even allow, the sort of high-quality practical activities that it is widely agreed are an essential part of a rounded science education. New facilities, once built, are going to be very hard to redevelop. There will be little further money for probably 25 years and little incentive for schools to commit routine funding to reworking facilities and spaces that have only recently been built. The consequence may turn out to be a science department where the curriculum and its teaching are more determined by the building than by the needs and aspirations of students and staff. As the country works towards providing more scientifically and technologically literate, qualified and enthusiastic students, this cannot be a good thing."