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How big should a SEND classroom be?
One of the most frequent questions asked about modular classrooms is the space needed for certain type of classroom or school. This is particularly the case when concerning SEND (special educational needs and disability) provision in schools.
Special needs vary and space requirements will depend on the specific special needs. There are government guidelines to help schools design their spaces and the department for children, schools and families publish Building Bulletins which detail this advice. You can download the most recent bulletin here.
To answer this question, and allow you to decide what size classroom is suitable to cater for your SEND provision, we have produced this compact and easy-to-understand guide which will direct you towards the ideal space required for SEND.
Table 2 provides a list of abbreviations used throughout this article as provided by Government standards in SEND care and education
For nurseries and pre-schools, a lot of space is needed to allow children to have an open and free environment. In their early years children experience the world in a highly sensitive way and this can be principle concern when addressing SEND spaces.
For this reason we recommend between 3.5 m2 and 2.5 m2 of space per child for children between 2 and 3 years old respectively. In terms of building size this is normally between 63-70 m2 for mainstream schools that cater for SEND pupils which can accommodate up to 26 children. For schools specially designed to educate SEND pupils we would instead recommend a much larger space for far less children with an average size of between 65-75 m2 for a nursery supporting between 6-8 children.
We understand that primary schools have a number of different needs for classrooms to fulfil and we also appreciate that different levels of SEND provision require different quantities of space.
In order for you to make an informed decision on the size of classroom your school needs and the degree to which your school needs to cater for SEND provision, we have divided the sizes of classroom into 3 categories depending on your SEND provision: mainstream schools, schools with a dedicated unit for SEND and those which specialise in SEND provision.
For small classrooms in mainstream schools, we recommend a minimum of a 56 m2 area which will provide a sufficient size for around 30 children. Standard classrooms which can also host up to 30 pupils should instead be between 56 m2 and 63 m2 whilst large classrooms, such as science labs, should range between 63 m2 and 70 m2.
Classrooms in schools with a dedicated unit for SEND typically need be larger for a smaller number of pupils. A recommended size for a small to medium sized classroom in a dedicated SEND unit, for between 8 and 10 pupils, should be in the range of 50 m2 and 65 m2 to provide ample space for learning and assistance.
Special SEND Schools
If your school specially caters for SEND pupils there are a variety of different sized classrooms needed for a variety of different needs. For this reason we have provided a Government standards table below with recommendations for sizes of classrooms for different pupil’s needs:
As with primary education, our recommended sized classrooms for SEND are divided into categories relating to the degree a school caters for SEND provision.
As well as the standard classroom ranges, being that of small, regular and large, we have also included classrooms for resourced provision which cater for a smaller group of children with specific or diverse SEND needs. These classrooms are particularly helpful for SEND provision within mainstream schools however they also serve as useful spaces within schools with a dedicated SEND unit or special SEND schools for children with particular SEND needs.
A small classroom in mainstream schools can be anywhere between 49 m2 and 56 m2 of space which will support up to 30 children. Standard classrooms, which can also host up to 30 pupils, should instead be between 56 m2 and 63 m2 whilst large classrooms should range between 63 m2 and 70 m2.
Schools with a dedicated unit for SEND typically need larger classrooms for a smaller number of pupils. For a small to medium sized classroom in a dedicated SEND unit, hosting between 8 and 10 pupils, we recommend a range of between 50 m2 and 65 m2 to provide ample space for learning and assistance.
Special SEND Schools
Special SEND schools will find that they need a variety of different sized classrooms catering for a variety of different and specific needs. To help you identify what sized classroom your school will need for particular SEND needs, we have provided a Government recommendation table for each specific need:
Table 18 shows the Government recommendations for classroom sizes in secondary special SEND schools.
Resourced Provision Classrooms
Typically for a smaller number of children than within other classrooms, SEND resourced provision classrooms are ideal spaces to teach SEND pupils with particular needs in any school. For a classroom catering for between 6 and 12 pupils, we recommend a classroom size range of 50 m2 to 65 m2 whereas smaller group classrooms are often between 12 m2 and 20 m2.
TG Escapes eco buildings are often used by schools for SEND provision. The buildings are particularly suitable as not only do they stand alone, access and the interior spaces can be designed around the specific needs of the school – for examples see our case studies and product range pages.
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