Blog12 July 2013

Government funding to improve air quality in classrooms

Amongst the factors that contribute towards the effectiveness of education, along with the teachers and lesson content, the learning environment has an important role to play.

While many of us may take it for granted that the air we breathe is clean and free of pollutants, some everyday school equipment may be releasing impurities and having a detrimental impact on children’s learning.

Clean Fresh Air and Comfortable Temperature
Enhanced Learning and Great Outcomes

The impurities and pollutants in question are released from everyday items from cleaning equipment to craft supplies. These can have a negative effect on health, with pupils suffering from fatigue and lack of concentration. These dangers help stress the importance of adequate indoor ventilation, without which, irritation to the eyes, nose and respiratory tracts become more prevalent.

The Education Funding Agency’s Priority School Building Programme (PSBP) proposes many positive changes to school ventilation specifications. It was set up to “address the condition needs of the schools most in need of urgent repair.” The programme complements the existing BB101 standard which discusses how to control pollutants in school buildings, the importance of ventilation and avoidance of summertime overheating.

Despite the scheme being privately financed, special schools and those in the worst condition have previously been additionally funded by government grant. However, on 27 June 2013, it was announced that £1.3 billion of additional capital has been allocated to the PSBP from the Treasury, enabling the delivery of all remaining schools in the programme. The programme will therefore be accelerated, and around 150 schools will be delivered a year earlier than originally planned. All schools will be delivered by the end of 2017.

As well as guidelines on the correct ventilation and carbon dioxide levels, the PSBP also provides performance standards for thermal comfort levels and recognises that indoor air quality, ventilation strategy, temperature, humidity and energy efficiency are all intrinsically linked.

The importance of education needs not be stressed, and a good quality learning environment is integral to pupils’ concentration, health and wellbeing. It is promising that the importance of adequate heating, cooling and ventilation is being recognised, and sufficient measures are being taken to ensure a good quality environment.