Ladbroke Grove School shortlisted for £10,000 redecoration prize to create sanctuary for SEN students

  • Sion Manning needs your help to win much-needed £10,000 colour and design makeover in national competition with Dulux
  • Initiative promotes learner-led design to engage children in the classroom 

Sion Manning Catholic Girls School has beaten off competition from across the country to be shortlisted in a national contest to win £10,000 worth of colour and design services to create a peaceful space for SEN students as well as the wider school community.

Last month, the school took in students of other schools affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, being situated just outside of the zone cordoned off by police. With the majority of its own pupils also living in tower blocks and witnessing ongoing scenes of disruption in their area, the school wants to create a space of peace and tranquility for girls who are surrounded by the ‘cacophony of the concrete jungle’, according to Assistant Headteacher Cheryl Subban.

Subban comments: “Our desire is to create a comfortable environment for all students experiencing the pressures of everyday life so they can feel safe and relaxed. Our aim is for our students to be proud of their environment, to create an area that they will respect and care for and in which they can learn life skills that will remain with them forever. By bringing the outside in with a colour palette of spring greens and ocean blues, this area would allow them to escape from the monotony of greys and blacks from morning until night.”

The competition is being run in association with Dulux Smarter Spaces, an initiative which promotes the concept of ‘learner-led design’ and the effective use of colour and design in schools. The aim is to encourage pupils to be actively involved in the decoration planning process, with the belief that by designing their own learning spaces children are likely to be more engaged in the classroom.

Recent research carried out to mark the launch of the Dulux Smarter Spaces initiative showed that an overwhelming majority of teachers and head teachers consider the school environment to affect pupils’ academic life. Nearly 40% said a neglected environment such as a classroom affected learning, with 28% claiming it can have a negative effect on behaviour and a fifth (20%) believing attendance is affected.

Wider evidence overwhelmingly suggests that optimised classroom design and redecoration, based on the use of specific colours, has a tremendous impact on student and teacher experiences, improving cognitive development, wellbeing and attainment. A study by the University of Salford showed that differences in the physical characteristics of classrooms explained 16% of the variation in learning progression, with colour itself accounting for 12% of that.

Led by Matthew Burton, of Channel 4’s Educating Yorkshire who is now Assistant Head Teacher at Thornhill Community Academy in Dewsbury, the competition will see one primary school and one secondary school each win the enormous prize to help revitalise their learning environments.

Matthew Burton comments: “My years as a teacher have taught me how important the aesthetics of a school are in inspiring learning in the classroom. I’ve seen first-hand the effects that school environments can have both on the part of the pupils and the teachers - the way a classroom and a school looks can have a huge impact.”

Schools around the country were invited to submit a 300-word entry explaining why they would be most deserving of a £10,000 transformation provided by Dulux Smarter Spaces. Just six secondary schools are now in the running.

Entries will be open to a public vote until Friday 8th September, when a panel of judges, including Matthew Burton, Professor Stephen Heppell, a pioneer of global education projects, and colour and design experts from Dulux, will decide upon the two deserving winning schools according to set criteria.


To help your local school win, please visit and vote for Sion Manning Catholic Girls School’s entry.

For further information on Dulux Smarter Spaces, please visit or call on 0333 222 7022.

July 11, 2017

Add new comment