How Can Modular Classrooms Help You Manage Large Intakes?

Modular classroom buildings for sale

With a growing number of school-age children in Britain and a reducing number of schools, the concerns about increasing class sizes, strains on older school buildings and ensuring every pupil gets the full education they deserve that were already around have only increased.

According to the most recent government education statistics, 73,800 more students entered the education system, whilst 12 schools closed entirely.

This does not even take into account the buildings that were closed entirely due to the concerns about reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), which is to this day forcing some school buildings to close and remain closed due to fears the roofs will collapse.

With more students than ever and fewer school buildings available, could premium modular buildings be a way to help manage student numbers without compromising the qualities of facilities and education?

Hutting Operation

In order to house a drastically larger intake of students, more substantial measures are needed, and with that in mind, it is worth exploring some of the ways prefabrication has helped the education sector in the past.

Most people will at some point in their school history have been taught in a modular classroom at some point, but by far the biggest initiative in British educational history is undoubtedly HORSA, or the Hutting Operation for the Raising of the School-Leaving Age”.

The flagship part of the Education Act 1944 during the final full year of the Second World War, HORSA was an ambitious plan to raise the school leaving age from 14 to 15, meaning that an estimated 168,000 more pupils needed a classroom to study in.

This would have been a somewhat ambitious task on its own, but it also does not factor in that so many buildings had been decimated by the Blitz, with many cities and larger towns lying in ruins as a result of five years of Luftwaffe bombing runs.

Whilst the law was enacted in 1944, it would take until the war had ended for the first “HORSA huts” to start arriving at schools that needed them, with the full effects of the Education Act only coming into force in 1947.

Unlike modern modular buildings, which were fully featured and capable of meeting the needs of modern students of all ages, HORSA huts were effectively repurposed flat-pack army prefabricated buildings, built from concrete and timber, with corrugated metal roofs and metal window frames.

The buildings allowed for 928 schools to be built in just five years, and a total of 7,000 classrooms provided capacity for 189,000 more students, although this assumes similar class sizes to what we have today.

The HORSA huts were meant to last a decade, but like a lot of prefabricated buildings, they proved to be astonishingly long-lasting, and some examples still exist in older schools to this day, although many have been replaced or superseded by newer buildings.

The legacy of the Education Act that formed them was just as long-lasting as nearly three decades later, its powers were used to create another major type of modular building.

ROSLA Blocks

Within the wording of the Act was a provision that allowed the school age to be increased to 16, which was to be implemented when it was possible to do so.

As early as 1959, there was an eagerness to increase the school leaving age from 15 to 16, although it would take another five years for plans to even start being drafted and until 1972 for the law to come into force.

The problem was, as it was in 1944, the capacity to house students, requiring the creation of middle schools or junior schools to teach children up to 12 and more facilities to teach 16-year-olds, especially given that the courses were intended to be more challenging and pave the way for skilled work and further education.

This led to the construction of ROSLA (Raising Of the School Leaving Age) buildings or ROSLA Blocks. They were, much like the HORSA huts that had come before, supplied as a self-assembled flat pack and could be erected in a matter of days.

They were distinctly designed with flat roofs and more modernist block-shaped architecture, although the difference between them and the HORSA huts is that enabled more versatility in room design, with room dividers rather than internal walls being used.

Many ROSLA buildings are still used to this day, and a lot of children taught in the last half-century have at least some experience of a ROSLA block.

Ultimately, modular buildings have saved the education system on two notable occasions as well as in countless other individual cases, and this effective, familiar solution is likely to help again to help students and schools meet the challenges of the future.

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