Designing for Physical Health : Safety, Security and Anti-bullying
Safety is a school designer’s first order of business – it makes student well being and success possible. A well designed school can serve as a place of refuge and support amidst the chaos and confusion we know to be adolescence. Project after project, we have seen the correlation between student-centred school design and reduced incidences of bullying, vandalism and security breaches. In our experience, it’s not a simple matter of eliminating dark corners and enabling passive supervision; the built environment must create the conditions for emotional learning and relationship building. A school that fosters a strong sense of student and community connection is inherently safer.
- Configuring a school for transparency and visual connection throughout.
- Sight-lines from administrative office for monitoring school traffic and activity.
- Example – At Our Lady of Grace Catholic School the entry vestibule is designed so interior doors lock forcing visitors to enter the school through the office during the day.
- Shorter and wider corridors and stair landings (avoid ‘horror-doors’).
- Openness – nowhere to hide.
- “Watering holes” or break-out spaces where students can pause, socialize and develop trust and relationships.
- The school layout can contribute to student engagement, connection and trust through strategic adjacency.
- Learning spaces can send students the message that they are supported and cared for and this has a tremendous impact on school spirit and social relationships.
- Spaces students can take ownership of such as cafes and lounges.
- Atria and multi-use spaces that help students connect to each other and to the larger community.
- Designing for school identity to nurture a positive and inclusive school spirit.
- Showcasing makes learning spaces safer and more connected through the use of transparency and glazing.
- Pedestrian and vehicular traffic – safe access to school and play areas.
- Designing the site for safe parent drop-off, avoiding routes that cross traffic.
Safety Through ‘Zoning’
- ‘Zoning’ so students share learning spaces with a common age group.
- At Alton Village Public School we zoned the school so JK-Grade 1 students were on the first floor; grades 2-5 were on the second floor; and grades 6-8 were on the third floor.