Why school buildings and grounds are important

Despite the challenges presented by a tough financial climate, we must not forget the importance of having good quality places for young people to learn and for teachers to teach.

Badly designed spaces are not overlooked and encourage bullying.

Badly designed spaces are not overlooked and encourage bullying. Copyright CABE.

Well-designed buildings provide facilities that are fit for purpose, accessible to all and built to last. They lift the spirits and aspirations of everyone who uses them.

Pupils deserve good design

Our immediate environment influences our mood and behaviour. Research by CfBT Education Trust found that ‘a school building can tell students who they are and what they should think about the world’. Findings from Manchester Metropolitan University suggest that pupils in poorly designed schools ‘felt that they were a reflection of their school: undervalued, worthless, dirty and uncared for’. Many pieces of educational research show the link between low self esteem and underachievement. 

Teachers are motivated by working conditions

Schools are places of work as well as places of learning and new schools must be able to recruit and retain high quality staff. Research from PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that investment in buildings and spaces was one of the two most important factors in teacher motivation. For example, teachers have improved morale when working in a physical environment that functions well.

A poor environment affects everyone

There are negative consequences of working in a poorly designed school. Illnesses, including stress and voice problems, are exacerbated by poor acoustics, ventilation and heating. Research by BRE Trust as part of their Better performing schools project (2007) suggests that pupil concentration, energy levels and mood are influenced by basic environmental factors such as natural light, noise, air quality and temperature. These factors can all be improved without large capital expenditure.