School facilities master planning calls for a cohesive approach. Whether you’re looking to build, redevelop or maintain what you’ve got, taking a step back to plan your planning is always a good idea! In this latest post, we’ve outlined our top tips for ensuring you create a school master plan that is actionable and achievable.
Begin with the end in mind
Starting out with your desired end result will help keep your master plan focused and relevant. Have a detailed understanding of your school’s vision statement and the overall school development plan. Once you know what the school is aiming to achieve, you’ll be well placed to plan your facilities development to assist this. It’s important to differentiate ‘nice to haves’ and educational trends from what you actually need to implement to help you achieve your goals.
A great way to start your school facilities master plan is by asking yourself ‘if budget and timescales were no problem, what would we do? and why?’.removing constraints from your thinking will help you focus on what is important. Asking yourself ‘why’ will help to justify your decisions, ensuring they are relevant and qualified.
Understand your competition
Delivering on you school’s overall development plan is more than just executing on decided deliverables. It’s all about how you measure up to other schools. The independent education sector is a competitive marketplace. It has become less about what you want to do as a school, and more about how your school’s offering compares with others in the marketplace, and what this means for the community members as well as individual students. You may be a school that is focusing on enhancing its STEM subject academic achievement, investing heavily into science faculty department, but if your boarding environment is below-par you may find it harder to attract students. Competing independent schools may have a similar academic offering, but with superior boarding environments, for example. Compare your learning environment with other nearby schools.
Understand your culture and ethos
Any changes you suggest in your facilities master plan must be suited and relevant to the ethos within your school. It is hardly worth investing £2 million into a state-of-the-art flexible learning technology lab, when only one teacher is equipped and prepared to use it correctly. Analyse and predict how your stakeholders will respond to changes in their environment, and invest appropriately. It may be that you need to focus on shifting the culture within certain departments before making capital developments.
Be aware of trends and new ideas, and only incorporate these into your school facility master plan if there is justifiable reason and evidence that these will work and enhance your school’s offering. Take your analysis from a cross section of various students, staff and other stakeholders.
If you decide to make changes that impact on learning styles and methods, ensure you have relevant training and education programs in place to manage the change and ensure the best success from your investment.
Do your research
Find the facts and look at the evidence. Adopt a user-centric design model to ensure that you know the facts before you embark on any program of development. From user surveys to building analysis, we offer a range of evidence-based interior design services. An intelligent educational interior designer will help you develop a knowledge base of data and research about your school’s unique needs, empowering you to make informed decisions.
A dollar saved
Aside from focusing on what you’re going to build, it’s always wise to take a step back and look for potential savings in your existing school facilities. A more energy-efficient lighting system, for example, could save you money in the long run. A more intelligent boarding house layout can increase heads in beds, earning you extra tens of thousands of pounds every year. Analyse what you could save, as well as what you could invest in.
Little apples are sweet
Sometimes, small changes make a huge difference. Shared areas in the school have the biggest impact on a wider number of students; libraries, dining spaces, washrooms –all have the ability to enhance individual student learning journeys. As with everything, do your research beforehand to ensure that this is going to be the best long-term opportunity, and increase student enrollment and engagement.
Involve students and other stakeholders in your facilities planning
A user-centred design approach will help you achieve the best long-term success from your school facilities master plan. Whether it’s at early strategy stage, or at the detailed finishing stages of a given project, involving your school governing body, senior leadership team, staff members and students will influence the design or plan from the actual needs of the users of your facilities.
There’s no need to throw all decisions to the crowd, only to end up with a thousand different opinions. Here at Envoplan, we have tried and tested research methods that allow us to glean relevant information in a structured way. Take a cohesive approach to your school facilities master planningDon’t be a lone wolf. Combine your facilities and campus master planning with your curriculum delivery strategy and marketing plans to ensure you have all key selling points and developments connected and interwoven for the best long term success of your school buildings.The last wordBuild a Masterplan that you can realistically achieve.
Your school facilities master plan will be vitally important to the future of your school. Ensure you are getting the best return on your investment and making wise decisions. New buildings can be expensive, but you can remodel existing buildings to suit your long-term needs. Connect with an education-specific interior design practise, that understands the vagaries of school life as well as the actual realistic costs of your development plans. Employ an experienced advisor that can offer you an accurate steer on the costs of all of your options, whether you are looking at a new building, zonal refurbishments or building redevelopment, taking your school facilities into the 21st Century.
Speak to Envoplan for assistance with your school facilities master planning. Our team can assist you with all aspects of the school facilities master planning, from school immersion visits (to gain a detailed understanding of your school facilities) to funding strategy assistance (including bid submission and funding sourcingsupport) and all other aspects of master planning.