1 in 8 British schools & colleges have CO2 levels that are ‘too high’

Almost one-in-eight schools and colleges have levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) that are considered as “too high”, says recent Government survey

Almost one-in-eight schools and colleges have levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) that are considered as “too high”, says a Government survey published by the Department for Education (DfE).

The survey was undertaken in education and childcare settings that have received carbon dioxide monitors to assess ventilation inside teaching spaces.

The Government’s report, which has been reported across the UK’s national media, says 12% of the schools using the monitors reported “sustained high carbon dioxide reading of 1,500 parts per million (ppm) and above”.

The DfE said the majority of the schools that reported high carbon dioxide readings managed to solve the issue with “quick fixes”, such as opening windows.

Last month, the DfE invited more than 36,000 schools and colleges to participate in the survey.

The survey, which received 4,367 responses, found that 3% of schools with readings of 1,500ppm and above could not fix the problem through “quick fixes or remedial building works”.

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said

“Schools are currently managing a very difficult situation when it comes to ventilation, not least balancing the need for good ventilation against keeping classrooms sufficiently warm for pupils and staff to be able to learn and work in.

“Clearly this is a dynamic situation and as schools get used to using the carbon dioxide monitors, we could see more identifying issues that need addressing. It is vital that the government ensures that schools are able to escalate these concerns for the foreseeable future and that they are able to continue to apply for air cleaning devices if they are needed.”

Priva UK & Ireland General Manager Gavin Holvey believes the report’s findings demonstrate a clear need for more investment in strategies and technology to deal with the present challenges. “I am very pleased to see that schools and colleges are making use of the CO2 monitors that have been provided by the Government. But, clearly, much more needs to be done to fund technologies that can improve ventilation – as relying on the opening of windows in the middle of winter is far from conducive to good learning.

“At Priva, we believe it is important for schools and colleges to have a modern integrated building management system – which allows the creation of a healthy indoor climate coupled with the best possible air quality and thermal comfort. We encourage school estates teams to look at all building functions in a more holistic way. If we stop doing this in silos, it will help to create safer and better managed indoor environments.”

Our latest white paper, published in 2021 and free to download now. ‘Healthy buildings: why now is the time to invest in building technologies’ highlights the need for organisations to meet or surpass existing guidelines for air quality. To download Priva’s Healthy Buildings, white paper, follow this link.

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