Nursery classes set to play Sardines

8th March 1996 at 00:00
Fears that schools may be able to open nursery classes and nursery units without adequate play areas were raised this week with the publication of new draft guidelines to replace the statutory regulations.

The current requirement that nursery provision should include an outdoor area of nine square metres per child is likely to be scrapped. The new guidelines merely mention the importance of access to an outdoor area, giving no recommendations for space per child.

According to Margaret Tulloch, executive secretary of the Campaign for State Education, the lack of guidance on play areas would allow nursery classes and units to be crammed into small spaces.

"This kind of guidance means you could stick a nursery unit in the corner of the playground," she says. "I can't imagine a local education authority going ahead on such a basis, but there might be grant-maintained schools that will."

The new guidance also reduces the recommended minimum space requirements in all but the smallest of primary schools. The 1991 regulations set out that pupils under 11 should each have a minimum space of between 1.8 square metres and 3.13 square metres, depending on the size of the school. The new guidelines suggest a minimum of 1.8 square metres for all primary pupils.

Both Labour and Liberal Democrats attacked the guidelines in a Commons debate this week claiming they would pave the way for larger classes.

The draft guidelines are due to go out to consultation next week.

They will replace the regulations from the beginning of the autumn term.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today