Well-designed classrooms can significantly improve the academic performance of primary school children, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Salford have found that pupils' progress in reading, writing and maths can be boosted by as much as 16 per cent in a single year as a result of a better learning environment.
Some of the biggest physical factors that were found to have an impact on attainment were natural light, temperature, air quality, colour and individualised classroom design.
The results of the HEAD Project (Holistic Evidence and Design), which was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, are published today (Wednesday February 25th) in a new report entitled 'Clever Classrooms'.
They reveal that moving an 'average' child from the 'least effective' to the 'most effective' classroom can increase their performance by as much as 1.3 sub-levels of the national curriculum in a single year.
Guidance from the Department for Education says primary school pupils are expected to progress by two sub-levels in a single year, which makes the findings significant.
Small, inexpensive changes made by those in teaching jobs, such as altering the layout of the room, the choices of display, or colour of the walls, can make a large difference.
Professor Peter Barrett, the author of the study, told the BBC that visual stimulation from wall displays was an important factor.
"You need a mid-level of visual stimulation. It is possible to have a classroom that is too plain - but it is equally true that you can overdo it," he remarked.
John Coe, from the National Association for Primary Education, said the report could have implications for teacher training and the current emphasis on test results.
"The study directs us back to the individuality of the child," he said. "They are not just units, they are individuals, and more attention needs to be given to their individual well-being."
Data from 3,766 pupils in 153 classrooms formed the basis of the study, which analysed 27 diverse schools across three local authorities.
Posted by Tim Colman