A study into the state of the nation’s schools has revealed that 85% of teachers think the school environment affects learning and behaviour.
Nearly 40% said a neglected classroom affected learning, with 28% claiming it can have a negative effect on behaviour. In addition, a fifth believe attendance is affected by run down school environments according to the study, carried out to mark the launch of the Dulux Smarter Spaces 2017 initiative.
Following recent reports of a crisis in school funds availability, 66% said the government is not doing enough to help schools prioritise necessary improvements to areas used by pupils. Almost half of the teachers and head teachers polled said their school had made no or insufficient improvements in the past year and more funds were needed to enable required school refurbishments.
Classrooms were the worst affected, with 70% saying they needed work. Interestingly the toilets were also identified as key areas in need of improvement, according to 48%.
The highest level of satisfaction with regard to improvements was among teachers at city technology colleges, with 67% saying works had been carried out and their environment had improved, while on average a third of schools had not seen any works carried out in the past year.
Interestingly, the level of funding satisfaction showed an unexpected north-south divide. Almost half (49%) of teachers and head teachers in the south felt their school lacked sufficient funding to improve its environment, compared with 36% in the north and 35% in the midlands.
For two years running, the Dulux Smarter Spaces initiative has been championing a movement to improve education environments, supporting schools to achieve better learning outcomes through the power of effective use of colour and design. Promoting the concept of learner-led design, the initiative was established to help schools thrive based on the belief that a vibrant space can help inspire teachers and students alike.
Led by Dulux Smarter Spaces Ambassador Matthew Burton of Educating Yorkshire fame, who is now Assistant Headteacher at Thornhill Community Academy in Dewsbury, the initiative is informed by an influential coalition of education experts.
Matthew Burton said: “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. I am so thrilled to be working with Dulux on the Smarter Spaces initiative and hope it can inspire a movement towards making small changes to improve the spaces in which we teach and learn.”
Last year, St Mildred’s Primary School, in Broadstairs, was one of ten lucky recipients of a colour and design transformation as part of the Dulux Smarter Spaces Initiative.
The school submitted a winning bid to fund the redesign and redecoration of their school hall.
As well as being an art, music and drama area, Assistant Head, Elena Hill, has already put it to further use as a meeting room. She also has more ideas in store.
“We’ve plans for a breakfast club as well as a weekly drop in club for our more vulnerable parents and children.
“We currently rent a field to the local football team but the new space is giving us opportunities to do different things than before. It’s become such a central point for the school and the wider community.
“When anyone walks in they just go ‘wow’. It’s very St Mildred’s - everyone loves it!’