Well designed school classrooms ‘boost academic success’

The BBC is reporting a new study that suggests well designed classrooms boost the academic performance of primary school children…

Researchers from Salford University said the layout, construction and decoration of classes had a significant impact on reading, writing and maths.

Natural light, temperature, air quality and individualised classroom design were especially important, they said.

And whole-school factors, such as facilities and size, had less impact than the design of individual rooms.

Researchers funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council carried out detailed surveys of 153 classrooms in 27 “very diverse” schools over a three-year period.

The team said differences in the physical characteristics of classrooms explained 16% of the variation in learning progress over a year for the 3,766 pupils included in the study.

It estimated the impact of moving an “average” child from the least to the most effective space would be about 1.3 sub-levels of the national curriculum – a big impact as pupils typically progress at a rate of two sub-levels a year.

The report’s author, Prof Peter Barrett, said there were three main factors involved in good design:

  • individualisation
  • stimulation
  • naturalness

Of these, the last was the most significant, with air quality, light and temperature playing vital roles and together accounting for half the total impact, he said.

“Humans are essentially animals, and their brains respond well to good natural conditions,” Prof Barrett said.

Prof Barrett said the team had been surprised to find individual classroom design played a much bigger role than whole-school factors, such as size, navigation routes, specialist facilities and play areas…

The team said the amount of visual stimulation – from displays on walls, for example – was also important.

Prof Barrett said: “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…”

More at: Well designed school classrooms ‘boost academic success’


The full paper is available online at the Building Environment journal: The impact of classroom design on pupils’ learning: Final results of a holistic, multi-level analysis


Are you surprised at the impact the actual classroom design appears to have on academic performance? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link!

Abolish overall Ofsted grades for schools, says union
'Outstanding' middle leaders to be parachuted in to struggling schools
Categories: Primary and Research.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove This is fairly obvious isn’t it, but agreeing on the correct balance between stimuli and sterile will be the issue

Let us know what you think...