How hot is too hot for teaching?

An apology to begin: if you came here seeking legal precedent to close down your classroom when the mercury hits 30 degrees, you are about to be disappointed. Tes reports.

Under UK law, there is no temperature at which it becomes legally too hot to work. That’s because of workplaces like factories and forges, where high temperatures are commonplace (much like those classrooms stuffed with 32 Year 9s in mid-July, you might say).

There’s also no legal requirement at the lower end of the scale, either, although government guidance suggests that workplaces should be no lower than 16 degrees, or 13 degrees if the work is physical. The guidance goes on to highlight employers’ need to “keep the temperature at a comfortable level”.

The NEU teaching union does recommend a maximum of 26 degrees in classrooms, stating that anything above this limit is “too hot for effective teaching and learning”.

Its guidance also takes on the definition of “reasonable”, stating that: “If people get too hot, they risk dizziness, fainting, or even epileptic fits or heat cramps. In very hot conditions the body’s blood temperature rises. If the blood temperature rises above 39 degrees, there is a risk of heat stroke or collapse. Delirium or confusion can occur above 41 degrees. Blood temperatures at this level can prove fatal and, even if people recover, they may suffer irreparable organ damage.”

The NEU’s page on high classroom temperatures also offers advice on precautions that can be taken during especially hot times, such as installing reflective film or blinds to windows, curtailing of certain heat-generating activities (such as use of computers, Bunsen burners, ovens, design and technology equipment), and adjusting the school timetable to avoid the hottest part of the day.

Read more How hot is too hot for teaching? 

Roll on summer! Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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