The laboratory – good standards
The standards below refer to a laboratory (a practical work area for science) that provides for up to 30 KS3/ KS4 pupils, or 20 A-level students, along with one wheelchair user and up to two support staff.
A minimum floor area of 90m². Its shape should be rectangular, or close to it, with a length to width ratio of between 1:0.8 to 1:1.1. Circulation spaces are vital.
Zones should contain the following:
- Two (teacher) presentation areas, each on different walls – one for demonstration, one with a teacher base (the base and demonstration area could be on the same wall).
- Fume cupboard
- Wall zone for health and safety equipment.
- Role play areas, with room for pupils to enact drama (where all activities take place in labs).
- Presentation areas to have good sight lines for all. Note that ‘face the front, in straight lines’ does not provide this.
Access / Egress and Security
- Emergency egress: This suggests two doors, remote from each other, both directly onto fire escape routes. A door to the prep room is also required.
- Doors: All doors should be fire doors (≥ 30mins), with view panels and automatic closers. These should be wide enough and tall enough to permit the passage of large equipment and wheelchairs. Locks should allow egress without a key (e.g. turnbuckles) and should not be on school-wide master
Where science accommodation is on more than one floor, or is not on the ground floor, a passenger lift is required to meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). If such a lift is within easy reach of the prep room(s), and easily accessible from main thoroughfares, this is also the better solution for manual handling of equipment, etc., between floors. Any lift should be wide enough/tall enough to accommodate wheelchairs and support staff, mobile fume cupboards, etc. Otherwise a special goods hoist between prep rooms should be installed. Such hoists should NOT be installed in science labs.
Labs should be locked when unoccupied, and supervised by suitably qualified science staff when open.