There’s no denying that there is currently high pressure on school places in the UK. A number of factors have come together to mean that school numbers, particularly at reception and primary stage, have increased significantly. It was estimated that by September 2014, an extra 250,000 school places would be needed to meet demand. The baby boom between 2001 and 2011 – the biggest 10-year increase since the 1950s – has created demand that many individual schools are struggling to accommodate.
For schools, the problem is that capital investment from funding sources does not come quickly enough, with the issue being that the increased demand will be temporary and spending now will lead to a surplus of expensive space in the future. It’s no wonder that many schools are turning to temporary accommodation, particularly primary schools who understand that the newest generation of baby-boomers will soon be moving on up. While secondary schools have the luxury of time to get organised for future intakes, primary schools and nurseries do not and have to move quickly to avoid overcrowding.
For schools faced with increased demand, modular classrooms can be the answer. Many of us who were educated during the 1980s after the baby boom of the late 1970s will remember being taught in mobile classrooms. A world away from the mobile classrooms of the 1980s which were little more than a wooden box with windows, the modern mobile classroom is almost unrecognisable.
Modular classrooms now come with state-of-the-art insulation, which is a real boon, especially for those of us who remember being taught to use a pencil while still wearing woolly mittens. They can have all the same equipment you have in your main building classrooms, including whiteboards and other IT equipment. Modular classrooms can also include WCs and cloakrooms, as well as all the utilities you need. These facilities can be joined up with your main supplies, or be stand-alone solutions. The joy of modular buildings is that they can be fully customised.
Look for modular classrooms that are built to spec and you can get one that fits perfectly on a convenient spot on your grounds. Details such as windows can be positioned carefully to minimise the sun’s glare, and maximise natural light.
Another way of growing your school’s available space is to use modular buildings for office or storage space. By adding secure storage space outdoors, you can convert indoor storage space into teaching space, making more room for those extra pupils but still having the storage space that every school desperately needs. Modular buildings can also be used as dining space, a library, PE space, music rooms, drama studios, or anything else that your school needs at the time.
Modular buildings don’t have to be damaging to the environment either. Modern mobile classrooms have much longer life expectancies than those of 30 years ago. While old mobile classrooms may have been looking a bit shabby after only a decade of use, modern modular buildings have life expectancies of around fifty years. They can also be produced from sustainable materials, and have in-built energy saving features, such as skylights for extra natural light, and low-energy LED lighting systems. If you want your building to have less of a visual impact, then adding a living roof is a great way of making your mobile classroom more attractive while adding extra insulation.
Best of all, modular buildings take a few weeks from purchase to delivery – with the installation able to be carried out during a half-term break – compared to the several months (at best) that it would take to design, approve, fund, and build a permanent structure. Modular buildings are less disruptive to your school’s routine. Modular classrooms are a fraction of the price of a permanent structure too, and you can always sell them on to the secondary schools in a few years’ time. After all, your problem (or little problems) will soon be theirs!
Read more about modular classrooms
Steve Warr of Green Modular, writes about building eco-friendly modular outdoor buildings based on sustainable design and durability, including growing a school quickly using modular classrooms.