Help for Schools
We want schools to have the perfect science storage areas. So on this page, we'll go through some helpful tips and advice on how best to approach the important issues relating to school prep room and science storage areas.
Check out our short animated 3D walkthrough of a perfect school science prep room below.
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Main points to bear in mind
CLEAPSS recommends that a school science prep room should be large and well ventilated. Prep rooms should have at least 5 room air changes per hour, which means that they should have windows that can be opened sufficiently wide and/or forced ventilation (preferred), particularly if chemicals are also stored in them.
Most chemicals should be stored in a secure, internal chemicals store, opening off the prep room itself. A fume cupboard and dispensing area should be nearby.
Gratnells believes that prep rooms should be kept tidy and organised. There should be a range of adjustable tray storage fitted, along with open shelves for large items and glassware. The science equipment should be close to hand and easily transferable from the tray racking to trolleys so that materials and equipment can be taken to the science labs safely and efficiently.
It really is false economy to use unsuitable or poor storage as damage often occurs. With the average value of science equipment in a secondary school at more than £30,000 it is important that part of the science budget should be set aside for looking after it.
CLEAPSS strongly recommends that prep rooms contain a telephone and a computer with a CD-ROM drive (essential to access health and safety information). But too much technology can turn a prep room into an office area for teaching staff to prepare lessons or marking – and that's not the purpose of a prep room! Even if it is used occasionally for teachers, provision should be made for segregating the areas. Science Technicians will, for example, be handling chemicals in bulk or may be engaged in micro-biological procedures, both of which require the utmost concentration and no interruptions.
Just how large should a prep room be?
The Department for Children, Schools and Families recommends a total area of prep room(s) + storage of 0.4-0.5 m2 per pupil workplace. The upper end of the range may be needed where there are post-16 students to help store additional or more bulky resources. Where laboratories are spread out, or on two floors, this figure may need to be increased to allow for the duplication of some resources.
For example – for six laboratories each holding 30 students 90m2 is required.
If prep rooms are too small or badly located more storage has to be found in the laboratories or in smaller satellite or ancillary rooms. This leads to dirty or soiled equipment being left in the labs, an increased risk of pupils stealing equipment/materials, and the imposition of even greater restrictions if a room has to be used as a form base or by non-science teachers.