designing a school

When designing a school it is vital that someone with education experience is involved in the conversations with the architects that are tasked with designing the school. There are many aspects to a school that need an educational eye in order to make the school efficient and whilst containing everything that the curriculum demands. For example an IB curriculum school needs different spaces compared to a Cambridge School or a Finnish School.

GSE has a number of architects to call upon with vast experience in designing a school in the education sector, if the client needs help in this area. 

Architectural Design

designing a school - construction

All schools are different as they reflect the local needs of the community, the climate, the nature of the curriculum and the schools vision and mission. Before you begin working and brainstorming with an architect, first you need to engage with a school operator, such as Global Services in Education (GSE). Someone who understands the school curriculum and the important learning and teaching priorities. Modern and newly built schools are not often a case of an architect lining boxes up and down corridors. It is important for you to consider capacity, class sizes and any future needs. The school could be phased construction meaning that it is important to know what is needed immediately and what can wait for another phase. An educator must be present in this phase as decisions are related to both education and business.

Certain countries, and even as locally as districts, can have their own unique architecture that can be incorporated into designs as a functional tool and as a marketing ploy of the school. This can help you stand out from the crowd, but it is not the only way. To match what other schools are doing is one thing, but it is worth considering strategies to excel or be unique in a particular area that other rival schools have not adopted. For example this could be a STEM/STEAM lab that could be placed on a pedestal and showcased as best practice to parents.

designing a school - interior design


Individual countries have there own construction standards, costs and processes when it comes to designing a school. This is a specialist field that requires experts to closely monitor progress. If construction costs soar or there are delays, it will cost you dearly. Makes sure you hire a very good project manager with a high attention to detail, who is also a great motivator and a people person. This is a time that micromanagement is necessary so that you can be aware of the project timelines and that they are moving along at a safe pace.

Interior Design

There are important design considerations when decisions are being made about internal facilities, materials and resources. Upfront costs are a factor as well as maintenance and function. This is a chance for the educator and the architects to be creative and exploit different characteristics of a building. For example at a GSE school in Malaysia, Primary classrooms were 120m2+, incorporating a mezzanine floor and a slide.

Children play

At this stage it is key to be in control of your budget and to be on top of everything going on with the school as, at this point, budgets can be blown out of the water, leaving sacrifices that need to be made in other areas of the school that can have an effect on academics and the quality of teachers that you bring in.

Steps to Setting Up a New School

Who is Global Services in Education (GSE)

Global Services in Education is a company led by education experts. They are proven education leaders who know how to set up and manage international schools. GSE can lead the project from the initial idea to set up and full management. Kindergarten, Primary, Middle and High School, Universities and Adult education.

GSE Brand

– School Management
– Strategic Planning
– Feasibility Studies
– Architectural Conceptual Design
– Interior Design
– Resources

– ICT Planning
– Marketing
– Branding
– Admissions
– Staffing & Recruitment

– Curriculum Design
– School Policies
– School Audits & Action Plans
– Training & Development
– Accreditation & Licensing

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Duncan Douglas, Project Manager at Global Services in Education:
– A specialist in marketing, admissions, project management, Special Education Needs (SEN)
– Extensive experience in school start-ups and senior education pathways
– Worked across UK, China, Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Myanmar, India and Malaysia
– Expert in UK curriculum