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Building our education future

A new specification guide from Siniat sets out the key considerations for school drylining systems to help designers and specifiers make informed decisions and create positive learning environments

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Flexible learning space at Ysgol Bae Baglan with child-centred furniture and bright colours
Flexible learning space at Ysgol Bae Baglan with child-centred furniture and bright colours

Drywall construction materials specialist Siniat has published its Drylining Specification Guide for Education 2017, which sets out the principles of good design for schools.

A young person’s experience of their school can shape them for life. The look and feel of the physical school environment is an important part of that experience and architects need to take their responsibility to provide the best possible materials very seriously.  

With over 30 years experience of helping to write specifications for schools, Siniat has seen firsthand the importance of good school design and its influence on the learning experience. Well-designed school buildings have a significant and positive impact on pupil behavior, engagement, wellbeing and attainment. Further, good school design has a positive impact on school staff’s productivity, with the most comfortable and well-designed schools demonstrating a 15% increase in productivity.

 Siniat sees itself as a key part of the education supply chain, and wholeheartedly endorses the RIBA Better Spaces for Learning Report, published in 2016. 

Good design in schools, identified by the team at Siniat, needs to include good quality, natural light, supported by good artificial lighting, along with natural ventilation systems and good acoustics. Thermal comfort, with control over temperature, is also paramount. Overall simple design that reduces reliance on complex mechanical systems is preferable. Spaces should be flexible, with an optimum level of visual interest in terms of design and optimum amount of colour in learning spaces.

Crucially, good design must foster the pupils' sense of ownership. School design that creates dedicated social or self-directed learning spaces incorporates child-centred furniture and allows for the display of work or imagery pupils can identify with on the walls.

Cafeteria at Bow School
Cafeteria at Bow School

Partitions, wall linings, floor and ceiling systems play a key role in helping architects achieve the definition of good school design set out in the RIBA report.

Getting the drylining system right is vital to meeting these design aspirations, helping to solve creative challenges such as how to create flexible spaces while still meeting or exceeding building performance targets like good acoustics.

Against a backdrop of limited funding available for schools, post-occupancy evaluations also show that choosing the right system can significantly improve the long-term experience of school buildings as well as reduce running and maintenance costs by offering, for example, improved thermal efficiency.

In its new Drylining Specification Guide 2017 Siniat has addressed the unique dryling issues faced by schools. These include soundproofing and absorption for optimum acoustics; durability an impact resistance; mounting accessories, fixtures and fittings; how to deal with tall interior walls in spaces such as assembly rooms and sports halls; special needs requirements; air quality and harmful additives; fire proofing, water proofing; sustainability considerations and thoughtful aesthetic design.

The guide is divided into eight sections, which covers a brief overview of the key regulations affecting schools, followed by the key challenges for specific rooms – assembly halls, atria, SEN rooms for instance – and how to solve them.  It includes detailed insights into selecting partitions, absorbent linings/ceilings and systems for fire protection.

  • A music room at Bow School with Siniat sound insulation
    A music room at Bow School with Siniat sound insulation
  • Corridor at the Isaac Newton Academy filled with natural light
    Corridor at the Isaac Newton Academy filled with natural light
  • Classroom at the Isaac Newton Academy with space for displays of pupil work
    Classroom at the Isaac Newton Academy with space for displays of pupil work

Understanding the requirements of adjacent spaces is key to choosing the correct partition, and will help designers create more efficient layouts. It is also possible to build higher specification walls that give future flexibility to allow almost any room to neighbour another.

Siniat's guide shows how to calculate the requirement for each partition, and the solutions to meet these requirements, indicating the relative benefits of each. It also includes robust details of these systems, alongside a fixings guide.

Specifiers also need to address reverberation issues, particularly prevalent in classrooms, corridors, atriums, assembly halls and communal areas. Reverberation can be overcome with sound absorbent plasterboards which are perforated in design and are able to absorb sound waves which help to deaden reverberant noise.

Siniat’s solutions help architects meet the requirements of Approved Document B to protect life safety, but to also protect the fabric of the school building. The guide offers choices of relevant shaftwall and encasement systems, with accompanying robust details.

To order the guide, and for more information and technical support visit



01275 377789





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