What We Do

What We Do



Action Plan



John Palmer, Research Director, Faber Maunsell (Birmingham)

Dr Dejan Mumovic, Lecturer in Environmental Design and Engineering, The Bartlett, University College London



The acceptance of the CIBSE to the formation of the Schools Design Group paves the way for a wide range of activities to foster knowledge exchange between all stakeholders in the provision of schools. Following a successful initial meeting, at which a good range of views and interests were expressed, this action plan has been prepared to help guide the group to achieving its aims.


The initial meeting identified the potential for a large number of activities aimed at all sections of the school construction and use sector. This included designers (M&E and architects), users (teachers and pupils), educationalists, and other regulatory or advisory bodies such as DFSC, CLG, CABE, SCEME, and PFS.  The following sections of this action plan sets out to identify areas of activity that the group needs to consider and prioritise to achieve these aims. Together with this it makes suggestions as to how the group may be set up and operated on an ongoing basis.


This ‘action plan’ is to promote and guide discussion and should not be thought of as a definitive statement. The plan aims to set out the range of activities that the group may wish to adopt and methods for taking those activities forward. They are presented with the clear understanding that the group will be mostly self re-sourcing and work will be carried out on a volunteer basis but with background support from CIBSE for events and publications. We must set our ambitions accordingly but it is firmly believed that over the duration of the group a substantial contribution can be made to improving school design in the UK.


The order of the topics below should not be taken as an indication of priority or sequence of events. In reality many of the activities can proceed in parallel.


Constitution of the Group

The group has come into being by the enthusiasm and hard work of Dejan Mumovic and together with CIBSE and a number of interested and enthusiastic parties it would seem that a viable group exists. In order for it to operate satisfactorily it will need some structure and designated officers. Currently Dejan is prepared to act as the Secretary and following the approval of the initial meeting John Palmer was proposed and accepted as Chair. It is suggested that until the appropriate activities are defined it would seem that, at the current level of activity, these positions are sufficient to ensure progress until the group has need of further positions such as treasurer, event co-ordinator, newsletter editor, publicity officer, etc.


Liaison with other Organisations

It is hoped that the CIBSE School Design Group will be a key forum for developing school design and therefore it should establish links with other organisations that have a stake in school design. To this end the group should collate a list of all the current and active initiatives and then aim to make contact and liaise as appropriate. It is suggested that one of the first tasks of the group is to identify these bodies and request volunteers from the membership of the group to follow up a given organisation and report back to the group the nature of the activity of the body and how liaison with the CIBSE may be furthered if required.


Organisations to be contacted would include at least the following:


  • RIBA
  • CABE
  • PFS
  • BCSE


Target Audience

The initial meeting identified a number of beneficiaries of the work of the group. This ‘target audience’ list included a range of people including:

  • Designers – M&E, architects
  • Users – teachers, pupils, caretaking staff
  • Legislators – CLG, DCSF
  • Clients – LAs, governors
  • Educationalists.


Each of these require different types of information and at differing levels of detail: a range that covers strategic design advice as to cost effective sustainable fabric construction down to specification of tamper-proof TRVs (for a not very good example).


The schools design group will need to decide on how it prioritises its efforts in order to meet this huge scope.


Research Register

There is great value in compiling a register of ongoing research work that is relevant to school buildings. The academic members of the group would be well placed to assist with preparing this register. It may come about from this that some of the more industrially based members would be welcome to support both on-going projects and research proposals to mutual benefit. This would include mainly UK based studies but other international research would also be of value.


There are already known centres of expertise in research in to relevant aspects of school design that could contribute to this, for example:

  • Brunel
  • Exeter
  • Reading
  • Sheffield
  • UCL.


Case Studies

Few things do more to promote good design than a good case study well reported. It is hoped that the group will be able to bring together examples of successful schools and report these for wider dissemination. Already existing exemplars may form the basis of a database of schools from which specific aspects of design can be drawn. Current research work way may already be finding suitable schools.


The group may be able to lobby funding bodies to provide support to monitor and investigate other potentially valuable case studies.



Material for publication is often very difficult to resource when relying on volunteer effort. It is proposed that any resource employed should, where possible and profitable, lead to some form of publication. For example, seminars, workshops and conferences should lead to a publication base on the material submitted for presentation. This may not of necessity be a stand-alone publication but material that can readily fit into a larger publication.


When considering material for publication it is recommended that all forms of publication are considered both paper and web based publications as felt appropriate. The following list gives some idea of the scope for potential publications and documents:


  • TMs
  • Knowledge Series
  • Leaflets
  • Newsletter
  • BBs




Bringing together people who share a common interest is a vital part of a group such as the schools design group. Events are an excellent way of doing this in both formal and informal settings. It is suggested that the group investigates how best to use events to generate and disseminate information within and without the target audiences. Possibilities are listed below:


  • Seminars
  • Conferences
  • Workshops
  • Site visits
  • Share fair


Each of these can be considered as appropriate and when demand warrants staging such an event. As indicated above in the publications section it would be efficient if these activities could lead to some form of publication to take its findings to a wider audience.



The list of topics that can be addressed is long and the initial meeting raised many of those that are of interest. Sustainability was thought to be an over-arching concern for many of the topics that could be considered. Whilst this is the case it is also important to recognise that other difficult design/procurement decisions have to be made on issues other than sustainability.


Schools are complex buildings that embrace a wider range of activities than most other building types. The development of new technologies and changes in design needs in schools has implications across a plethora of aspects of the M&E design and architecture. Some of these are listed below for consideration.


  • ICT
  • Security
  • Water
  • Fire
  • Heating
  • Environmental conditions
  • Acoustics
  • Kichens
  • Swimming pools
  • Green roofs
  • Lifts.



The way in which these aims are delivered will need careful consideration by the group and a suitable programme will need to be developed. It will be important for the group to identify key activities and the time frame in which they must take place. The attached ‘Action Plan’ template will assist with this process.