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School building plans criticised

03/01/2013 Joanna
The education secretary is facing a growing backlash from people in teaching jobs and architects over plans to change the way schools are built after a study suggested that classrooms designed in a certain way can boost attainment by as much as 25 per cent.

Education secretary Michael Gove has demanded a stripped-down approach to the next wave of school buildings in a bid to cut waste in education.

However, the Guardian reports that several high-profile figures have criticised the plans for 261 replacement primary and secondary schools, with designer Deborah Saunt suggesting that the pared back designs are akin to feeding children fast food every day.

Mr Gove's ban on curves as a way of weeding out extravagance in architecture sparked strong reactions in some sectors late last year.

Now, new research by a team at Salford University suggests that building environment can have a big impact on receptiveness to teaching and subsequent performance in tests for reading, writing and mathematics, further undermining the education secretary's stance.

The year-long study was carried out in 34 different classrooms across seven Blackpool primary schools, with differing age groups taking part. Design parameters such as classroom orientation, access to natural light, noise, temperature and air quality were all considered, as well as other factors such as flexibility of space, storage facilities and use of colour.

The findings suggested that placing a typical pupil in the least effective classroom environment could hinder their learning progress by as much as one year compared to the best surroundings.

Professor Peter Barrett, at the university's School of the Built Environment, said: "It has long been known that various aspects of the built environment impact on people in buildings, but this is the first time a holistic assessment has been made that successfully links the overall impact directly to learning rates in schools."

Posted by Theo FouldsADNFCR-2164-ID-801516141-ADNFCR
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