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Health and safety design in school spaces

What it is

Our schools, children’s centres and preschools need to be safe for everyone. However, this needs to be balanced with preparing children and students with disability for real-life challenges and risks.

Safety versus independence

There can be conflicts between safety and independence. Most places need fences and gates to keep people safe. A design has not worked if:

  • places look too security focused or prison-like, for example with spike-topped fencing
  • gates are inaccessible or impractical for people with mobility impairments to use, for example people who use a wheelchair or walker.

If gate latches or door handles have to be above an accessible height for safety, there should be extra ways to get in, such as having an intercom.

How it can help

A location needs to work well and be easy to access, but still allow for privacy. It can help children and students to self-manage. Specific design features can balance the potential conflict between safety and independence.

Design features

Individual needs

Features should respond to the individual needs of students. Some examples are:

  • well-shaded and sheltered outdoor areas
  • adjustable lighting that includes natural light
  • adjustable heating and cooling that can be controlled separately in each room
  • fresh air and a way to filter the air.

These features help all children and can be necessary for children and students with certain health problems.

Convenient and easy to get around

Children and students need to have choices and a chance to become independent – indoors and out. For example, quick and easy-to-use entry and exit systems, like swipe cards and keypads instead of keys and manual latches.

Emergency situations

When there are emergencies, people should be able to respond quickly. There should be suitable access to:

  • duress buttons for emergencies
  • a way to lock down a specific area
  • equipment like fire extinguishers, alarm buttons and power points.

Spaces for specific health needs

There should be separate spaces for health care needs. Some examples are:

Asset Standards and Environmental Management

This information was provided by the Ministerial Advisory Committee: Children and Students with Disability which ceased in 2019.

For advice on building standards contact:

Phone: 8226 3497
Email: education.standards@sa.gov.au

For advice on inclusive legislation and policies contact:

Inclusive Teaching and Learning

Phone: 8226 0521
Email: education.DPP@sa.gov.au