Legal requirements governing heating levels in schools and the steps to be taken in dealing with the various types of heating problems which are commonly encountered during cold weather and snow. Briefing issued by the NUT.
Until October 2012, legal requirements which specified the minimum temperatures which had to be maintained in school classrooms were set out in the Education School Premises Regulations 1999.
These Regulations provided that, in areas where there was a normal level of physical activity associated with teaching, the appropriate minimum temperature was 18ºC (64.4ºF). In areas where there was a lower than normal level of activity (e.g. sick rooms) or higher than normal level of activity (e.g. gymnasia and also washrooms), the appropriate minimum temperatures were 21ºC and 15ºC respectively. These regulations were replaced as of 31st October 2012 by the School Premises (England) Regulations 2012. These regulations do not specifiy minimum temperatures for any parts of a school. Despite removal of this regulation, the NUT position remains that temperatures in school classrooms should be at least 18ºC (64.4ºF).
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which apply to all workplaces, including schools, set out requirements on minimum temperatures in workplaces. Regulation 7 requires that temperatures shall be “reasonable” and the accompanying Approved Code of Practice defines this as "normally at least 16°C" (60°F) (para 43) during “the length of time people are likely to be there” (para 49). Although this is lower than the minimum temperature previously required by the Education (School Premises) Regulations, it applies to non-teaching areas as well as classrooms.
There are no legally-prescribed maximum temperatures for school premises or other workplaces. The Workplace Regulations and accompanying Approved Code of Practice require, however, that all reasonable steps are taken to achieve a reasonably comfortable temperature by, where necessary, special ventilation measures including provision for fans.
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