Thursday, 25 October 2007

Schools as community facilities - design implications in reality -

So we are designing a three new high schools and one primary, each with a full range of facilities to help the community. Meetings have taken place with medical people for a small treatment room, a dental surgery, community library folk, the youth department, the sports departments for sports events, social services, the police, - all very commendable and truely the direction I feel school should go as we move to a 7 - 11p.m facility.

However, visiting a school last week with a colleague we noticed three teenagers "floating high" as they weaved through the school compound. Their purpose - if they remembered, was, they claimed to visit the Social Services office, which was located, rather bizarrely, literally in the middle of the primary school campus. There is no way to get to it without walking through the compound with potentially very easy unlimited access to students - nothing to stop them! This is not helped by the fact that they can walk through the other side of the site - it is therefore a short cut as well for the less enthusiastic walker. Now nothing has happened ....... so far ...but the risk factor is high!

As we develop the new facilities I really do believe that they should be community campuses, but the design of where things are physically located and how it relates to the actual layout for students on a day to day basis on their site is a real issue of safety and child protection. How to integrate community services without affecting student and staff safety is the challenge for all. It is easy to say "don't have them on site" but that really is against our whole philosophy - interesting to see how we resolve this.

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