It is good practice and our expectation that the majority of new schools will include sprinkler systems. Currently over 70 per cent. of new secondary schools and academies procured under Partnerships for Schools arrangements include sprinklers. It is not however a legal requirement for schools to be fitted with sprinkler systems and we do not hold information on the number of new schools not fitted with sprinklers.
On 19 May 2009, my right hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) led an Adjournment debate on fire safety in schools at which this issue was discussed. I subsequently met my hon. Friend and colleagues on 22 October. We have also received representations from the Chief Fire Officers Association and the National Fire Sprinkler Network; and parliamentary questions have been asked in the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Our policy remains that introduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Dorset (Jim Knight), when he was Schools Minister. In March 2007 he announced the Government's policy on sprinklers and their value as a measure against arson by saying:
“It is now our expectation that all new schools will have fire sprinklers installed. However, we do not intend to make this a compulsory measure. There may be a few cases where local authorities or other promoters of schools consider that sprinklers are not needed. If so, they will need to be able to demonstrate that such schools are low risk and that sprinklers would not represent good value for money.”