Research finds classroom design is more important than school design in the UK . . .

A new study throws light on the impact that Classroom design more important than the school’s in the UK can have on the performance of primary school pupils.

Published by the Construction Index  on February 25th, 2015

The right natural light, temperature, air quality and colour can combine to boost learning progress in primary school pupils by up to 16% in a single year, researchers reckon.

The research found that the design of individual classrooms was more significant than whole-school factors, such as navigation routes within a school and the facilities available.

The ‘Clever Classrooms’ report has been produced by the University of Salford after a study funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The research shows that the impact of moving an ‘average’ child from the ‘least effective’ to the ‘most effective’ classroom can increase his or her performance by as much as 1.3 sub-levels of the national curriculum in a single year. The researchers say that this is significant because guidance from the Department for Education says primary school pupils are expected to progress by 2 sub-levels in a single year.

The Salford research team spent the last three years collecting pupil data and carrying out surveys of 153 classrooms from 27 schools across three local authorities: Blackpool, Hampshire and Ealing. In total, the study collected performance statistics for 3,766 pupils. Typically, each school studied had a mix of more and less effective classrooms.

This is said to be the first time that evidence of the effect on learning progress of the overall design of the physical learning space has been isolated in real-life situations. Individual factors including air quality have been studied in the past, but how individual factors combine has proven difficult to quantify.

Lead researcher Professor Peter Barrett said: “The research identifies many simple, quick and cost-effective ways for teachers to change their classrooms to make a real difference to a child’s performance in reading, writing and maths. We’re not talking about major investment on behalf of the school or local authority – quite the opposite: simple choices in how classrooms are used and evidence-based decisions when schools are being built.

“I hope our ‘Clever Classrooms’ report will become a valuable asset for teachers and school designers across the UK and can make a real and lasting impact on children’s learning progress at such an important stage in a child’s development.”