School design guidelines

At the heart of the council's commitment to give every child the best start in life is a commitment that every child should attend and thrive at a great local school.

You only have to look around the borough to see the wonderful examples of this including, many schools which have benefitted from state of the art regeneration projects including Albion, Phoenix, Charles Dickens, Robert Browning, Ivydale, the Belham, Bellenden, Cherry Garden, Keyworth and Grange. Our schools are places where good teachers, great school leaders and committed support staff ensure that children leave school equipped with the skills, knowledge and well-being to fulfil their potential.

The buildings where our children learn and our staff teach influence the success of school life. Our schools should be warm, dry and safe but they should also provide indoor and outdoor spaces that enhance teaching, learning and play. They should be places where our children are inspired to learn and where teachers feel they have no barriers to delivering the very best education. For parents and the wider community they should be buildings to be proud of and which add to the quality of the local built environment.

We know from experience that school buildings do not need to be new and shiny to do these things. Well-maintained old buildings can be sources of huge interest and curiosity for our children and can be enhanced by internal improvements and external extensions. There is no perfect architecture for a school so instead our commitment is to making sure every school building is fit to deliver a 21st century education and to create environments where every child feels safe and secure to explore, develop and grow.

These school design guidelines (pdf, 1.5mb) set out our ambition for the entire Southwark school estate, for existing schools that may need maintenance, improvement or extension and for the next generation of schools that will be built in Southwark. These design principles are being set out now to particularly inform the consideration of school sites and expansions in close proximity to forthcoming large residential developments including Old Kent Road and Canada Water. 

The guidelines allow flexibility, not on the ambition that every school building should be of the highest quality, but instead to recognise that every school and school community is unique. Our headteachers, teachers, children, parents, governors and local communities should feel they can set out their vision for their school and these guidelines rightly allow for us to respond to their knowledge and priorities.

Page last updated: 08 March 2022

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