Family Guide to the School Environment
School buildings and spaces -- the third teacher
Most of us do our best to make our homes comfortable. Decent furniture and colour schemes, good ventilation and heating and lighting all help to make our home life better.
Our schools need to have the same priorities. We know the spaces our children play and learn in can have a direct impact on how well they do at school.
Recent research carried out by Cambridge University points out that issues such as noise, ventilation, heating and furniture not only affect how well children learn but also how they behave. Ask children what they think -- they will always have an opinion!
For National School Environments Week (June 23 -- 29), we want to highlight the importance of these things -- light, space and ventilation -- and many of the other issues around school buildings that directly affect our children.
To mark the week, the British Council for School Environments is launching a new publication for families offering information on how to check out whether a school building makes the grade.
The 'Family Guide to School Environments' is full of tips and advice on what to look out for when choosing a school for a child, and ideas on how children (and parents) can get their current school to think about changing the way classrooms, dining rooms and other areas look and feel.
Sometimes you don't need to do much -- a lick of paint or rearranging the furniture can make a huge difference to how a room feels, making it easier for children to concentrate on their work. And social spaces are just as important to learning -- don't forget about them.
The pack includes advice on safety and security, the layout of school classrooms, access to outside spaces, school furniture and the availability of ICT.
Many schools do their best with limited resources, but the new guide will help you understand what to look for and how to check what the school's plans are for the future.
There is a lot of tax payer's money being invested in school buildings at early years, primary and secondary school levels. This is great news -- our children should be spending time in schools that are beautiful, interesting and inspiring. So it's really important that the money is well spent, and parents, teachers and children all have a chance to say what they think.
We hope the new pack will encourage families to ask questions about the buildings children learn in. We need to see more attention paid to the way our school buildings are designed, built and used. Parents and teachers are vital to our children's success, but school buildings have been rightly described as the 'third teacher'. Let's give our children the best possible chance by ensuring our school buildings are up to scratch.
Copies of the 'Family Guide to School Environments' can be downloaded here: