Call for maximum temperature in Scottish classrooms

  • 3 January 2018
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Pupils in class

Image caption

Classrooms which are too hot can cause fatigue

A teaching union has called for a maximum temperature to be set in Scottish schools.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), believes too much heat can cause fatigue, loss of concentration, impaired learning experiences and increased risk of accidents.

Currently a school can be too cold for pupils, but not too warm.

Pupils can be sent home if their classrooms do not reach the minimum temperature, but there is no maximum.

Now the country’s largest teaching union has called on the Scottish government to establish a maximum acceptable temperature in Scotland’s schools.

Workplace regulations exist regarding a minimum acceptable temperature (16C, or 13C where rigorous physical effort is taking place) but there is no equivalent for maximum temperature.

The EIS wants a maximum temperature established in schools in the interest of the health and wellbeing of pupils and staff.

The union has included the recommendation in its response to a Scottish government consultation on Updating the School Premises (General Requirements and Standards) (Scotland) Regulations.

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There is currently no maximum temperature set for staff and pupils to work in comfortably

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Too much heat can cause fatigue, tiredness and loss of concentration which can lead to increased accident risks and impaired learning experiences for children and young people.

“Unfortunately, current workplace regulations do not apply to non-employees and, therefore, can only be considered as guidance when considering health and safety concerns in schools.

“School classrooms are not just accommodation; they are learning environments each requiring their own specific temperatures.

“Essentially, the workplace regulations are too vague to be applied meaningfully in school settings.”

‘Potential risk’

Currently, there is no national maximum temperature for any workplace. Regulation 7 of the Workplace Regulations 1992 merely states that during working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be “reasonable”.

Mr Flanagan wants the Scottish government to give serious consideration to the issue of maximum temperature in order to ensure appropriate learning conditions for pupils.

He said: “The EIS would be happy to contribute to the consultation regarding what this maximum temperature should be.

“Schools sometimes send pupils home when the school is too cold – but we also need to be aware of the potential risk of classrooms being too hot for pupils and teachers to work in safely.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “Workplace health and safety legislation is reserved to the UK government and is a matter for the Health and Safety Executive.

“We will consider submissions to the consultation on Updating the School Premises (General Requirements and Standards) (Scotland) Regulations and set out our response in due course.”

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