Meeting thermal comfort and internal air quality standards for schools can be difficult for buildings that, traditionally in the UK, have not used mechanical ventilation and air-conditioning. With a trend towards increased internal gains, and climate change predicted to cause a significant rise in temperatures, this issue becomes more problematic. Considering this within the context of low-carbon buildings creates an added hurdle-can low-carbon schools be produced that will provide a comfortable teaching environment in the future? Through a series of simulations on template school buildings, this study highlights the effect that future small power and lighting energy use could have on reducing the overheating of school teaching areas. The effect of a warming climate is also estimated, and the impact that has on the internal temperatures of a school quantified. Introducing external shading and increasing ventilation in classrooms can reduce overheating significantly but, for many cases, the risk that the school building cannot cope with the overheating problem might still remain. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.