Maximum temperature call for heatwave-hit classrooms
- 19 July 2013
- From the section Education & Family
School teachers have renewed calls for maximum legal temperatures in heatwave-hit classrooms as the heat continues.
Some teachers have been reporting temperatures topping 32C (90F) and very uncomfortable conditions in class.
And some schools have been dishing out ice lollies and renting air conditioners to help pupils keep cool.
General secretary of the NASUWT teaching union Chris Keates said such heat makes pupils lethargic, can affect concentration and lead to fainting.
Her union wants to see a statutory maximum temperature of 30C in school classrooms. This would mean staff and pupils being sent home if thermometers went above this.
She said excessive temperatures are a major problem for schools and that most are ill-equipped to cope with them.
She claimed teachers and pupils were sweltering in classrooms with inadequate ventilation and sometimes not even blinds at the windows which can be used to provide some limited shade.
Ms Keates said: "The impact of excessive temperatures on teaching and learning needs be given serious consideration.
"Pupils become extremely lethargic, unable to concentrate and, in some cases, faint.
"Lessons are disrupted by constant requests for time out to get drinks of water or to go outside and many tasks take far longer to perform. Teachers report that the quality of work undoubtedly suffers at such times."
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, is also calling for statutory maximum temperatures to come into force.
She said: "Clearly, very high temperatures can affect the ability of teachers and pupils to concentrate and to work effectively, and can cause physical discomfort and illness.
"The NUT will continue to campaign to ensure that 26C is the absolute maximum temperature in which teachers should be expected to work."
One teacher told the NASUWT: "I teach in a classroom with no ventilation, no windows and just two doors which open into other closed areas. When the weather is above 24-25C, and more especially if the humidity remains high, the room is too uncomfortable in which to work.
"Any significant movement results in sweating, it becomes difficult to concentrate and there is a complete loss of enthusiasm to do anything beyond basic childminding."
Meanwhile head teachers have been trying their best to help both staff and children keep cool in schools up and down the country which have not yet broken up for the summer holidays.
Some have taken the precaution of cancelling or rearranging their sports days, while others have been encouraging children to stay in the shade at break times.
Parents are being reminded by text message and email to send their children to school in sunhats and to put on sun cream before they leave home.
One head, Simon Hawley of Colham Manor Primary School in Hillingdon, said ice lollies were being dished out to pupils by catering staff once a day.
And like many other schools he has hired extra air conditioners and is ensuring pupils have constant access to water. He has also relaxed the uniform requirements
A school in Cardiff which was not so willing to bend the rules to allow shorts ended up with a group of Year 10 boys mounting a protest by donning skirts instead of their regulation trousers.