Solar shading in schools is often either one of two things: taken for granted because a robust solution is in place, or a constant nightmare for the maintenance team.
In this post, we want to specifically discuss some of the main reasons why schools should invest in solar shading that offers a long-term, hassle-free life span.
HSE’s display screen regulations state that: “windows shall be fitted with a suitable system of adjustable covering to attenuate the daylight that falls on the workstation”. While this is a legal requirement in the commercial environment, it is not a mandatory requirement for schools! With the increase in students and staff alike using laptops, computers and other screened devices, it should be a priority to ensure that adequate solar shading is provided before it becomes a problem – or a litigation.
Improved Teaching Environments
With glare often comes an overly-warm working environment causing focus to decrease as students become uncomfortable and distracted. Appropriate shading means that staff can retain better control of the teaching environment.
Classroom blind fabrics aren’t “one size fits all”. For example, screen fabrics to the windows can offer enough shading that what’s going on outside doesn’t distract the students, whilst still allowing natural light to penetrate – a commonly cited benefit to study areas. Blinds can also enhance the use of new technology; e.g. closing the blinds means a brighter screen image on smart boards.
Health & Safety
Blinds are a necessary requirement to reduce glare and brightness onto the many flat surfaces around schools, whether it be floors, desks, whiteboards, smartboards, etc. For building managers, this is critical because not only can glare cause headaches and eye tension, it can also cause slips, trips and falls. The school is responsible for eliminating these hazards.
Under RoSPA, blinds in areas where children are present must be “safe by design” or be supplied with the appropriate child safety devices installed. This means that where there is a loop that is present, or could be created, a safety device must be installed at the point of the manufacture. These safety devices either break under pressure, tension the cord or chain or provide the facility to store cord(s) out of reach.
There are certain types of fabrics which scatter sound waves before they reaches the reflector (glazing). This helps to reduce echos in larger rooms and minimise disruption to those working in the surrounding environment.
Acoustic fabrics can also come in the form of curtaining. Acoustic curtains are designed to provide a degree of sound absorption within the space in which they are used. Often used in halls, performing arts or drama spaces, they not only provide a variable acoustic environment for different applications but control excessive reverberation in wide open rooms with very reflective surfaces.
Equality Act 2010 Compliance
In a school with disabled students, blinds are required to prevent glare for wheelchair users in circulation spaces, where shading may not normally be listed as a requirement. Unfortunately, this is little known and often overlooked.
As with fabrics, the operation of the blind can differ depending on the requirement. Standard blinds are controlled by manual chains which must be operated in line with the mechanism. This method of control is not suitable for wheelchair users, or for smaller users, as the chain gets progressively heavier when the blinds are being raised. A blind with a folding crank handle is suitable for operation at an angle, easy and light for smaller users and most importantly, legally compliant.
Keep your teaching staff teaching, keep your students happy and save your maintenance team time – get the right blinds in!
Here at InterLace, we’ve heard your frustrations with school blinds, we’ve seen blinds in every state from the good, to the bad and ugly. We know that you need reliable, robust, child-safe blinds and curtains.
Schools and colleges rely on our advice so we’ve made it our business to understand what education needs for shading in every situation from primary through to FE colleges. Blinds are key in creating the right teaching environment and the best interior for existing and prospective students assessing your facility.