The Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999 1 set out the legal requirements for minimum temperatures in schools. These are:
• 18ºC (64.4ºF) in areas of normal level of physical activity associated with teaching (ie ordinary classrooms)
• 21ºC in areas of lower than normal activity (e.g. sick rooms); and
• 15ºC in areas of higher than normal activity (e.g. gymnasia, washrooms).
The Regulations require that schools have heating systems capable of maintaining these minimum temperatures and also that school classrooms are actually heated up to at least these temperatures for as long as the rooms are used for their normal purpose. Temperatures in school classrooms must therefore be at least 18ºC (64.4ºF).
What is the maximum temperature my classroom should be?
There are no specific legal maximum working temperatures for schools or for offices or other workplaces. However, there are some sources of legal protection for teachers and pupils :
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their staff and others present in the workplace (e.g. pupils), thereby providing a need to seek to protect against excessive working temperatures.
Regulation 7 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 requires employers to ensure that temperatures in workplaces should be 'reasonable' although it does not specify a maximum reasonable temperature.
These legal requirements can be enforced by HSE health and safety inspectors who may issue legally binding notices to employers obliging them to comply with the requirements.
What is ‘Reasonable'?
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. Although there is no legal maximum in UK law, the World Health Organisation recommends 24°C (75°F) as a maximum for comfortable working.