Demand for moveable walls from within the education sector has grown in recent years, with schools, colleges and universities all aiming to create adaptable space.

With moveable walls becoming increasingly integral to the smooth running of the curriculum, emphasis must be placed on maintenance and service of the system, minimising the risk of unscheduled downtime, or a degradation of acoustic and fire safety performance.

“With technological advance, moveable wall systems have become more complex,” comments Katie Mitchell, southern service and repair manager at leading partitioning specialist, Style.

“It is vital to have your partitioning wall regularly serviced and maintained by a professional with the necessary credentials to carry out a safe and thorough job.”

An appropriate level of competence might be CITB approved in-house training. Engineers should also hold an NVQ Level Two Operable Wall Installer certificate and have the necessary training for access equipment, such as PASMA and IPAF. For fully and semi automatic systems, engineers must have certified manufacturer training, with fault detection software and hardware available.

Finally, a service provider with a team of directly employed engineers, rather than sub-contracted, helps maintain quality management systems by ensuring continuity of care.

All Style engineers have been trained in health and safety, asbestos awareness, risk assessment, and PASMA. Style is also CHAS and ConstructionLine accredited and offer the only genuine UK nationwide breakdown and repair service for all types and makes of acoustic moveable walls and folding partitions.

“Aiming to minimise cost and disruption, we always aim to repair an existing system wherever possible, replacing individual parts or even re-fashioning worn components on occasions,” concludes Katie. “A well-maintained moveable wall can operate safely and efficiently for 25 years plus and key to that is a good relationship with a reputable servicing partner.”

By Jennifer Castle, Chief Operating Officer at LHC Procurement Group.









A lot was written about the problem of crumbling concrete in 2023 after it was discovered in the walls, roofs and floors of 174 schools across the country.

With increased media interest came new disclosures: hospitals, housing, offices and shops were found to have reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), as were Heathrow and Gatwick airports – and even the Houses of Parliament.

So worrying was the situation for the NHS that hospital trusts in England were asked to prepare for evacuation as part of ongoing business continuity planning. Because of RAAC concerns, NHS England issued the instruction to all 224 health trusts.

Scratching their heads

We know the problem. But what was slow to emerge from the maelstrom of political blame and counter-blame is an answer to that most important question of all: How do we solve it?

Its sheer scale and complexity left local authority executives scratching their heads and looking at timescales stretching well into this year. Not only do they need to find the right people to do the work, but they must compete for their expertise.

In the case of schools, headteachers have to factor in the educational needs and safety of the children. With hospitals, it might be vulnerable patients who cannot have treatment interrupted. Housing authorities? The myriad requirements of tenants.

And this is where frameworks come in.

Starting with a consultancy service framework, a proper assessment of the problem can be made. Consider education providers: if RAAC was identified they will have been told they need to sort it out, but there is the disruption to the pupils’ education to consider.

The first step is to get an expert in to assess the potential danger, the best ways to minimise disruption and then outline the work required. Using a consultancy framework ensures that a competent, qualified person is identified to provide the correct guidance.

This stage is crucial and I like to put it this way: would you expect a RAAC inspector to run a school on a daily basis? Obviously not. So why should a headteacher be expected to work out the best way to deal with crumbling concrete and the ability of a company to provide that support? They can easily identify the correct experts through using an appointed company on an existing framework, ensuring that they are speaking to someone with the right qualifications and skills, who can deliver the work at a reasonable rate.

Step two: Once a professional assessment of the work needed to be carried out has been made, a framework which brings together professional builders and tradespeople – companies who have been carefully vetted – comes into play. Once local authorities have reached agreement with a chosen builder, work commences to an agreed timescale. Here at LHC we have found that this makes the procurement process much quicker and smoother.

Step three: Local authorities want to keep disruption to a minimum and once a provider has been engaged, the operation would almost certainly involve interim measures. In the case of hospitals and public sector buildings, for instance, it might include the use of temporary offices for staff. For schools, temporary classrooms can be delivered on site within a matter of weeks, including offsite, modular solutions. Again, frameworks can help.

Frameworks are sometimes overlooked when it comes to crisis management but when someone is under pressure to find quick solutions, mistakes can be made. From experience, I believe that cool heads are needed in such situations and that is where framework providers prevail, providing certainty and assurance for decision makers.

To put this into context, our refurbishment of schools framework – Public Buildings Construction and Infrastructure (PB3) – has been accessed by 98 organisations delivering 192 education projects over 12 years – a total spend of £633.5m.

RAAC roof planks

The root of the RAAC problem goes back decades, with the substandard building material commonly used in hospitals and many civic buildings between the 1950s and 1970s. Some issues with RAAC have been known for 40 years.

The Building Research Establishment (BRE) published a research paper in 1996 identifying excessive deflections and cracking in a number of RAAC roof planks, effectively stopping its use in any future constructions. Another review in 2002 highlighted “excessive” deflections and cracking in many older buildings using RAAC.

Fully 16 years later, a roof made of the material at Singlewell Primary School in Kent suddenly collapsed. Thankfully it was over a weekend, meaning nobody was hurt.

That concentrated minds and owners of school buildings in England were advised to check roofs, walls and floors made of the material “as a matter of urgency”.

And here we are today. There can be no excuses for kicking the can further down the road and so, what next?

One word, two syllables: frameworks. They provide the foundation for every local authority to guarantee an orderly and measured response to a crisis decades in the making.

Dancers can spend hours working in a dance studio, it is their place of work and should offer a safe environment fit for purpose. The floor is a dancer’s most important work tool; not only is it the canvas for their creativity, it also gives them protection against slips, falls and longer-term stress injuries.

Experienced dancers can judge a good floor instinctively as to whether or not it feels right. And if it feels right they can effectively forget about the floor and concentrate on putting all their focus and concentration into the artistic performance. A confidence that comes from a reassurance they are not going to slip and fall, that lifts can be performed safely and on landing from jumps the response of the floor consistently returns the right amount of energy absorption. Quantifying this subjective rating of a floor into a series of repeatable tests is no simple task. Anyone specifying floors for dance should remember that dancers may not be the commissioning clients, but they are the end users. Major dance companies understand this, which is why it is not uncommon to ask their dancers to “test” floors before the final choice is made.

It is a common assumption that a well-designed sports floor will suit the needs of dancers, but this is not the case.

There are some critical factors that distinguish the requirements of dance from those of sports played on a sports floor. Many sports require a firm floor which allows balls to bounce predictably. By contrast dancers need more absorption from the floor to protect them on landing from jumps. A good dance floor instills confidence in dancers to give full expression to their creativity, safe in the knowledge the dance floor will offer a consistent response.

Unlike sportsmen who wear increasingly high-tech air-cushioned shoes to give grip and protect against impact injuries, the modest ballet shoe has barely changed in design since the mid-18th century. Made from soft leather, canvas or satin, the ballet shoe is very flexible, has a thin sole and offers little protection for the wearer.

But not all dance floors are the same, only a floor developed specifically for dance will do. There may be a temptation to specify floors for aesthetic or budget reasons, or to specify sports floors in the mistaken belief they will be suitable for dance but there have been some high-profile examples where floors have had to be replaced by a dance company after the building is complete and dancers have their first experience of dancing on the floors.

Generally, dancers should refuse to perform on unsuitable floors and demand the right to have a touring floor that has the same absorbent characteristics as the floor installed in their rehearsal studio. A dance floor should be neither too supple nor too soft. A hard floor has the effect of causing serious return shock waves and can bring about injuries or premature wear in the cartilage. A soft floor causes the muscles, and therefore the tendons, to work harder. Additionally, a floor that is too soft can be dangerous for dancers because of the effect of surprise.

The flooring manufacturer has a role to play in ensuring dancers have a safe environment in which to rehearse and perform.

Harlequin is widely recognised as the world’s leading authority on dance floors. As an enlightened manufacturer Harlequin has always worked closely with the dance community to develop floors that dancers want to dance on. Flooring products in the Harlequin portfolio were typically evolved to meet the specific needs of a particular dance style and have been developed in conjunction with dancers themselves.

Aware of the high injury level among dancers, Harlequin is an active supporter of IADMS (International Association for Dance Medicine and Science) and of NIDMS (National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science). NIDMS through shared expertise and a network of multidisciplinary partners, is working to provide better and more affordable access for all dancers to high quality, evidence-based, dance specific health care and dance science support services.

Leading dance companies from around the world trust Harlequin to keep their dancers safe in their rehearsal dance studios, on stage and, more recently, whilst dancing from home.

But this assurance of quality is not only applicable to elite dancers. It is equally important to provide amateur dancers in performing arts colleges, universities and schools with the same quality flooring. Aspiring dancers need protection too if they are to avoid cutting short their potential dance careers.

There is no doubt, the choice of flooring is critical. For over 40 years Harlequin has been the performance floor of choice for the world’s most prestigious dance and performing arts companies, theatres, venues and schools.

Harlequin’s experience and reputation are founded on the design, manufacture and supply of a range of high quality portable and permanent sprung and vinyl floors chosen by the world’s leading venues – from the Royal Opera House, to the Paris Opera Ballet and the Queensland Ballet.

Harlequin offers free advice to ensure dance companies, schools and venues install dance floors best suited to their particular use.

For more information, please visit or call +44 (0)1892 514 888.

Birmingham based Kestrel Powder Coating has become one of the elite companies awarded a QUALICOAT coating applicator approved licence, assuring the quality of its powder coating service for extruded aluminium profiles.

QUALICOAT is an independent, globally recognised product certification scheme. To gain recognition, applicators must use QUALICOAT licenced products and employ a precisely specified process for the powder coating service.

Kestrel Powder Coating, sister company to Kestrel Aluminium, has been providing powder coating to the relevant quality standard (BS EN 12206) for many years. The QUALICOAT certification adds an additional layer of rigorous assessment, with inspectors examining each step of the Kestrel process to ensure that every stage of production and customer service is carried out to consistently high standards.

The certification is a welcome recognition of the degree of training and focus on quality improvement that Kestrel has developed in recent months, with a dedicated team determined to see the company joining the limited number of organisations in the UK market to hold this prestigious quality mark.

Nicki Baylis, General Manager at Kestrel, is delighted with the recognition. She said: “The QUALICOAT licence demonstrates both the quality of our service and our ambition to be seen as a quality leader in the provision of powder coating services within the UK.”

Kestrel Powder Coating supplies high-quality finishes in a wide range of RAL and BS colours. It has built its reputation on high quality and on first-class customer service, a combination that has led to an impressive degree of customer loyalty. The company anticipates that the QUALICOAT licence will attract new customers, who demand this rigorous quality certification.

You can learn more about Kestrel Powder Coating online at

James Hardie, the world leader in the manufacture of high-performance fibre cement and fibre gypsum building solutions, has launched a new 11mm Hardie® Panel which saves time and money for builders, contractors, and architects. Developed for projects in education, healthcare and the public sector the new panel will deliver a cost effective, robust solution for any project.

The 11mm Hardie® Panel is up to 50% cheaper than directly comparable products and is available in a choice of three textures that can be customised to any standard RAL colour providing ultimate design flexibility. It achieves European Assessment Document (EAD) Category I for impact meaning that only one layer needs to be installed up to 1.5m high from the ground and is A2 fire-rated meeting stringent fire safety requirements.

Building on the success of the existing Hardie® Panel products the 11mm panel delivers all the benefits of the 8mm panel whilst also achieving robust impact requirements. It provides a range of installation options making it an ideal choice for projects where space efficiency and design aesthetics are integral.










Lee Bucknall, UK Country Manager, James Hardie said: “We are getting great feedback from the market about the release of the 11mm Hardie® Panel. This product delivers a robust solution ensuring facades and the people around them are safe and protected.

“Our customers receive dedicated project support from our Hardie® Panel Specification Managers, onsite meetings, toolbox talks, technical support, project take offs and a network of fabricator partners.”

Nick Carroll RIBA – Architect, Property Developer added: “The 11mm Hardie®Panel provides a cost-effective solution for architects and builders who need to adhere to the EAD category 1 impact at an affordable cost. I’ve used Hardie® fibre cement products many times which deliver quality and protection at an unmatched price.”

When it comes to flooring, schools face multiple challenges in terms of balancing durability, safety, aesthetics, ease of maintenance and budget. With almost 9.1 million students in schools across England alone, and 24, 442 schools as of 2022/231, a substantial proportion of our population are in schools every week to learn and grow. Choosing appropriate floor coverings that are high-quality and high performing is integral to the delivery of educational facilities that help to support the growth and wellbeing of pupils and teachers alike.

Are there any regulatory requirements?

Whilst floor coverings are not strictly regulated beyond requirements for aspects such as fire performance or slip resistance, the Building Bulletins (BB series) provide overall guidance for the design of educational facilities, the full list of which can be found on the website2.  According to BB93 for Floor Finishes in Schools, ‘the primary function of a floor finish is to provide a durable, safe, clean, acoustically compatible, attractive and affordable surface.’

More useful detailed guidance on the considerations for flooring can be found in the Partnership for Schools document Standard specifications, layouts and dimensions 2: Floor finishes in schools.3, which includes recommendations for issues such as acoustics, sustainability, ease of cleaning, and indoor air quality.

Durability and ease of maintenance

One of the key considerations when specifying anything for use in an education building is how well this product will fare against the frequent heavy use of hundreds – if not thousands – of students.

Carpet tiles can offer a good option for both durability and a quick and easy repair – if one tile is worn or broken, this can be replaced without taking up the entire carpet.

Carpet tiles can also help to moderate noise levels compared to hard surfaces, maintain thermal comfort, reduce the risk of slipping, and offer a wide range of colours to help demarcate different areas or support wayfinding.

For example, the Triumph Loop4 range from JHS has been tested for heavy usage with a rating of 33 under EN 1307, and has an antistatic rating of ≤ 2kV in accordance with ISO 6356. The product is also stain-resistant, available in 27 different colourways and carries a 10 year warranty.

Aesthetics and flexibility

Bright and aesthetic surroundings can have a positive effect on children; if a school or university looks like somewhere they want to spend more time in, it stands to reason that they will be inspired to stay and learn.

For example, the high performing Epsom5 range of broadloom carpets has a subtle but distinctive pattern in 14 different colours, and is both hardwearing and stain resistant. Alternatively, the innovative Triumph Everyway tile range can be installed in any direction, making fitting simpler and faster, as well as ensuring that any replacement tiles will not look out of place. The subtle pattern and shadings provide interest without being distracting, and the 8 colour variations add to the design possibilities.

Impact Noise

Noise disturbance can seriously disrupt a classroom environment. Schools will never be quiet places, but if noise reaches levels where students are unable to concentrate, it can greatly hinder the quality of learning that goes on – which will in turn affect individual students’ wellbeing and the performance of the school.

Some flooring solutions, such as the Novara6 range which has a ‘silent backing’ resulting in an impact noise rating of 29db in accordance with ISO 10140, can help to reduce the effects of noise levels in the building – i.e., footfall, lifts, pipes and electric equipment – as well as external noise that travels through the air, such as noise from the floors above and below.

Thinking about the environment – both indoors and out

Better indoor air quality (IAQ) has been shown to have positive effects on physical and mental wellbeing. Pupils in schools with better IAQ may have improved productivity and concentration, will be less prone to fatigue and tiredness, and will be less affected by allergens which can distract from learning and impact student health.

The DfE has set IAQ performance standards for teaching and learning spaces which ensure compliance with Regulation 6 of the Workplace Regulations on Ventilation and to comply with BB101.

At the same time, there is increasing interest in products that contain recycled content or that have a reduced impact on the environment.

The Colour Foundation7 range is made from a 100% ECONYL yarn, which is manufactured from discarded fishing nets, spent carpets and other nylon waste. It also has a secondary backing of post-industrial recycled content and offers a Green Label Plus rating for Air Quality. With 36 different solution dyed colours to choose from, this hard-wearing range is sure to tick a lot of boxes.

Fire safety

Fire safety in schools is of paramount importance, and the choice of floor covering is no exception in considering this.

At JHS, flooring is manufactured and tested to BSEN 13501-1 s1 fire classification standards. All of the products mentioned in this article achieve either a Bfl-s1 or Cfl-s1 rating (both classed as flame retardant with little or no smoke emissions).

Two Rivers primary school in Keynsham, Somerset, is only the second school in the country to achieve Passivhaus Plus accreditation. To achieve this impressive milestone, architects Hatcher Prichard had to make conscious choices when it came to choosing materials for this project. With outstanding sustainability credentials and a wide portfolio of solutions suitable for the education sector, Hatcher Prichard specified a variety of Forbo Flooring Systems’ contemporary floor coverings, including its Tessera carpet tiles, Sphera and Eternal vinyl floor coverings, as well as both its Surestep and Safestep safety flooring.

A new build primary school for 420 pupils, Two Rivers Primary School was designed to add the much-needed provision for primary education to children in the Keynsham area, whilst also following sustainable building practices. With the requirement to achieve Passivhaus Plus accreditation, which meant the building had to produce as much energy as the occupants use, Hatcher Prichard had to carefully consider the materials used in the construction of this building.

Simon Hatcher, Director at Hatcher Prichard explains further: “Two Rivers achieved Passivhaus Plus accreditation in February 2023 and is only the second school in the country to do so. It is also the first to be built using standard building materials, including a steel frame with concrete floor slabs. When it came to specifying materials for the building, we looked for manufacturers that had strong sustainability credentials. With Forbo’s environmental goals so aligned with our own, and that of the building as a whole, it meant they were the perfect fit! In fact, Forbo’s sustainability credentials and flooring solutions were key to finishing this wonderful building.”

However, as well as the sustainability objectives that Simon had to keep in mind, he also had to meet the design requirements. Simon commented on this, saying: “We were supplied with a document by the Department for Education on the Employer’s Requirements, which includes a section on floor coverings and the factors to consider when specifying materials for schools. The main area of consideration though was the functionality of the flooring; it had to withstand the heavy foot traffic we would expect to see in a school, whilst also being easy to clean and maintain.

“Additionally, the floor coverings needed to be installed seamlessly alongside each other to keep the joints between them flush, as well as provide some slip resistance. The chosen floor coverings also had to be suitable for the usage of each room, with the colourways used also needing to be appropriate for the age of the children using the space. The Forbo account managers really helped with this, thanks to their understanding of how specific products from Forbo’s portfolio met the individual requirements of each room in the school.”

Image credit: Bhagesh Sachania








With the suitability of colours in mind, Simon looked to incorporate elements of the local environment into the design, as well as take inspiration from the school name too. He explained: “The design of the school draws from its location at the heart of Hygge Park, Keynsham. The surrounding area has a calm, Scandinavian palette of colours and materials, with the local houses made from light buff brickwork with white render above. We opted to use matching buff brick and white render externally, with complimentary blues, greys and whites for the walls and other surfaces inside. All the floor finishes were supplied using the contemporary and durable range of Forbo products required for each individual space. For example, Forbo’s Eternal vinyl was specified in the Washed Beech wood décor for the hall, hall store, studio and servery areas, which provided a natural contrast to the white paint on the walls, without being too distracting.

Image credit: Bhagesh Sachania








“We also specified Forbo’s Sphera homogenous vinyl in a clear blue colourway, to represent the ‘two rivers’ of the school’s name, which runs along the ground floor corridor and extends back up along the first floor. We also used Forbo’s Eternal vinyl in the Smoke colourway for all the ground floor classrooms, which created a calm and neutral feeling.”

What’s more, a selection of Forbo’s Tessera carpet tiles were chosen in a muted blue colourway for the first-floor classrooms, which helped to make them feel bright and spacious. Speaking on this decision, Simon said: “With the first-floor classrooms designed for the older students, we felt it would be more appropriate to use a textile flooring, as opposed to the vinyl flooring used in the Key Stage 1 classrooms. As such, Forbo’s Tessera Teviot carpet tiles were installed in the Mid Blue and Blue Moon colourways, both of which fit the colour theme running throughout the school. Additionally, the Tessera carpet tiles are really easy to clean, another requirement set out in the brief, so it ticked all the boxes.”

In addition to the above, Forbo’s Surestep and Safestep safety flooring were used across the project to ensure the safety of students throughout the building. Specified in the Smoke and Silver Grey colourways to match the colour scheme, the safety floors were installed in the wet rooms on both floors, as well as in the DT classroom on the first floor.

Simon concluded: “We’re really happy with the finished project, as are the school and students’ parents. The school held an open evening in mid-January where the Head and Deputy Head showed visitors around the building; both were delighted with every aspect, especially the hardwearing finishes throughout.”

With the initial design stage beginning in August 2020, the school was completed in December 2022 and opened for students shortly afterwards in the new year.

To find out more about Forbo’s offering for schools, visit:

With a diverse range of subjects taught in secondary schools, Dave Ford, Specification Manager at Altro, considers the key criteria when specifying flooring for specialist teaching spaces.

Standard secondary school classroom floors have to deal with a lot of feet and furniture. Around 30 pairs of feet regularly come, go, or rest on the floor; add to that 30 bags, 30 chairs and many table legs and it’s clear that the floor needs to be tough. But in any secondary school there are many other specialist spaces with additional criteria to consider when looking at specifying floors or walls.

Art/CDT rooms

No surprises here. Art room floors contend with a lot of contaminants, such as chalk dust and muddy water from clay work. Flooring needs to be easy to sweep up and clean up, without pupils slipping up. A CDT room floor presents different slip hazards, such as sawdust and on top of this, it needs to house heavy equipment and will see regular wheeled traffic.

Look to specialist safety floors here, such as Altro Classic 25, with a high level of slip resistance to reduce the slip risk to one in a million, even with that muddy water and Altro Easyclean Technology, making it easier to clean up. At 2.5mm it’s tough enough to cope with art props or heavy equipment being dragged around the room, with the added benefit of comfort underfoot.

CDT room walls will regularly be knocked, scuffed and bumped. It’s a working space and should look like one but regular painted walls will end up with chunks missing, paint flaking off, scratches, scuffs and more. A freshly painted wall will soon look as though it was decorated years ago. This is an area perfect for wall protection such as Altro Fortis Titantium, which is dense impervious and resistant to bumps.

Computer labs/server rooms

These rooms have a simple function: protect the equipment that’s kept there, particularly if it’s static-sensitive. It’s also not somewhere you want to decorate regularly, so it needs to have a floor that goes the distance and is easy to maintain. Look to specialist options such as Altro Walkway 20 SD, a static-dissipative floor, reducing static build-up that has the potential to damage valuable equipment – both in terms of cost and how vital it is in the day to day running of the school. There’s also the added reassurance of its fire standards’ compliance in an area that has a higher fire risk than other spaces. Its 10-year guarantee ensures no disruption to the computer systems caused by repairs to, or replacement of, the floor before this time.

Libraries/study rooms

For individual learning, small group discussions or browsing the shelves, libraries and study rooms need impact sound reduction from feet within the room. No longer dusty, off-putting spaces, these rooms should feel warm, welcoming and comfortable. With foot traffic mainly in front of the shelves and around chairs and desks, the floor needs to be able to withstand busy use.

Look for flooring such as Altro Orchestra which offers comfort underfoot and 15dB sound reduction, as well as resistance to residual indentation ensures the floor’s thickness is only a benefit, with the weight of heavy shelves and other furniture needed in these rooms causing no problem.

Science labs

Science labs experience dropped experiments, amongst other mishaps, with the floor taking the brunt. Add to these trollies of scientific equipment coming in and out of the lab, plus students rocking back and forth on stools, and you’ve got the need for a tough safety floor. Look to heavy duty options such as Altro Reliance, which offers the ideal combination of good chemical resistance, cleanability, stain resistance and durability that a lab needs to look good for the long haul. And that stool rocking? Even if the rubber feet are rocked loose, 2.5mm thick Altro Reliance can withstand the pressure from the metal studs underneath that could pierce a thinner floor. With a high level of slip resistance, staff and students are also safe from slips caused by water accidental spills.

Music rooms

The sound you want to hear inside a music room is the music being played. The sound you don’t want to hear outside the music room, is the music being played. It’s a balancing act. An acoustic floor will reduce impact sound – footsteps within and below the rooms, chairs and other furniture being pulled across the floor. A good option here is Altro Serenade, an acoustic floor, reducing impact sound by 19dB. At 3.9mm thick it also provides welcome comfort underfoot to music teachers, who stand for much of the teaching day.

And for music rooms – and all creative spaces – consider Altro Whiterock Digiclad, which allows you to choose from patterns or photographic images, either from our pre-designed collection, or your own design, using a straight-forward ordering process. Durable and with scratch-resistant properties, the chosen design will retain its looks.

Adhesive-free options

Adhesive-free floors have been a breakthrough product in the last decade, and when Altro adhesive-free floors can save you up to 50% on time, up to 50% CO2 and up to 35% in cost, you can see why their popularity has grown. With 14dB impact sound reduction, they can help with acoustics in noisy classrooms and during the lunchtime rush. No odours from adhesive and quick overlay of existing tiles, even with asbestos, means less disruption and less downtime when you need it most. In the last year alone, Altro has added two new adhesive-free ranges, including Altro Stronghold adhesive-free for commercials kitchens and the highest slip-risk areas plus Altro Illustra, a class-leading safety floor with stunning natural aesthetic designs.

For a wide range of tools and resources for specifying in education, visit:

CMS Danskin Acoustics’ SuperPhon panels are contributing to reverberation control at a newly built school in East Hertfordshire, helping to ensure standards for acoustics in new school buildings are met.

Buntingford First School is a school for around 330 children between the ages of three and nine, which opened for the 2023 autumn term.  Built to Passivhaus standards by Morgan Sindall Construction for Hertfordshire County Council, the 1,643 sqm school includes a nursery and ten classrooms.

During construction 175 SuperPhon panels of varying sizes and colours were installed by SCL Interiors, mainly on classroom walls, to absorb sound and provide reverberation control.

SuperPhon provides up to Class ‘A’ acoustic performance and has a Noise Reduction Coefficient from 0.80 to 1.15 – an NRC of 0 indicating perfect reflection and an NRC of 1 indicating perfect absorption.  The sound absorption coefficient is tested to BS EN ISO 354:2003.

New school buildings must satisfy the requirements of Section 1 of Building Bulletin 93 (BB93) – setting out the constructional standard for acoustics in new school buildings.

SuperPhon is available in standard sizes, thicknesses and finishes, including wipe clean and art panels, but also as bespoke panels in terms of size, thickness, shape or fabric facing.  Designed for use in applications, including recording/rehearsal studios, audiology rooms, cinemas and theatres, schools, call centres and conference rooms, SuperPhon has been installed at the Liverpool Academy, Edinburgh Observatory, Jodrell Bank and the Hydro Arena in Glasgow.

CMS Danskin Acoustics, part of SIG plc, provides a free reverberation calculation service as well as full technical and on-site support.  The panels are manufactured at their Warrington site.

SCL Interiors are a leading suspended ceiling and partitioning contractor, providing services including SFS, dry lining, suspended ceilings, glazed screens and acoustic rafts/wall panels throughout the East Anglia region.

With Labour having a clear lead in the polls ahead of a general election this year, its pledge to charge VAT on private school fees should it win the election has left several independent schools worried about a drop in pupil numbers. However, many private schools may be able to save more than they realise by utilising their assets more effectively.

Molly Skinner, associate at leading property consultancy Fisher German, has worked with a number of different schools to help them make the best use of their property and bring in much-needed income, and shares her guidance on what private schools can do to soften the potential blow.

“Whatever your view on Sir Keir Starmer and a possible Labour government, the party’s announcement to charge 20 per cent VAT on private school fees and clamp down on any possible avoidance by parents leaves schools with a stark choice. Schools could choose to absorb the cost, heavily impacting their cash flow, pass the costs onto parents, inevitably reducing pupil numbers, or reduce the number of bursary and scholarship places, which reduces opportunities for less well-off children,” she says.

“None of these options are ideal, and most private schools will have to make some very difficult decisions should Labour be elected and follow through on their pledge. But in my experience in working with the education sector at Fisher German, schools don’t always utilise their property assets to generate the most income and save money, and some are paying far too much for certain outgoings. For example, we have regularly seen schools overpay on business rates to the local authority without challenging the rate. If the use of a building has changed or any extensions, demolitions or alterations have been made, the rates may actually have reduced.

“Having successfully and repeatedly challenged Valuation Office’s Business Rates demands for over 30 years, Fisher German have a proven track record in the education sector. This is underpinned by the fact that, in the last five years alone, we have saved our clients over £30m in total from asset reviews across all sectors. In terms of best utilising assets, many schools do not realise just how valuable their property can be. As part of an asset review we undertook for Moulton College in Northamptonshire, we identified four buildings on the edge of the campus no longer suitable for educational purposes which we have since let. This has in turn generated additional income to be invested back into the College. Other ways schools may be overspending is by using old-fashioned methods of powering their buildings. We have recommended certain schools install discreet solar panels to save on electricity bills, and to generate an extra source of income with carbon credits. Indeed, installation of other infrastructure such as telecom masts in a quieter area of the school’s property is another way of bolstering income.”

“Many decision-makers may not know where to start when it comes to identifying these opportunities on top of running a busy school, but this is where having external experts come in can help. Fisher German is made up of professionals with all sorts of relevant expertise to help the education sector, including in property acquisition, business rates, rent reviews, planning, asset valuation, sustainable energy, and more. We are already helping many education clients save money and find new streams of income, and with Labour’s announcement in mind, it is more important than ever that private schools make the best use of what they have,” she concludes.