British Council for School Environments report stresses link between school buildings and educational outcomes

Robust evaluation of the performance of school buildings must be a key part of the government’s future school building programmes, a new report has said.

The British Council for School Environments (BCSE) report on school building, published today, stresses the impact of the school environment can have on educational outcomes and flags the importance of a robust post-occupancy evaluation programme for newly built or redeveloped schools.

It said this was particularly important in the light of squeezed budgets for school buildings and the need to manage the forthcoming population bulge in primary and secondary schools.

The Department for Education has yet to publish the results of education delivery agency Partnership for Schools (PfS) Post-Occupancy Evaluation research. Building understands the post-occupancy work has been completed, and is ready to be published, but DfE has yet to give the green light for it to be published.

The BCSE has started a consultation exercise to support the development of a decent school standard, with its new report setting out some of the key areas which need to be addressed to ensure all learning environments “are not only fit for purpose, but functioning in the best way to support teaching and learning”.

The report comes amid fears that the DfE is downgrading the importance of school building quality, including sustainability and space standards, in a drive to cut costs

The BCSE report highlights some of the key elements which impact on educational outcomes for pupils, students and teachers when it comes to school buildings These include:

  • Enabling factors, such as build quality, acoustics, temperature and light, which make learning possible
  • Facilitating factors, such as choice, adaptability and virtual learning, which make learning easier

Speaking at the launch event of the report, Nusrat Faizullah, BCSE chief executive said: “This is the beginning of a process that will culminate in a decent school standard by clearly demonstrating the impact environments have on teaching and learning.

“We hope that everyone concerned with school buildings - from students and teachers through to construction firms, architects and suppliers - will use the report as a springboard for discussion, argument and debate”.

The BCSE expects to use the findings of the consultation exercise, along with other commissioned research, to put together a new report in the summer.

This will be used to help develop a decent school standard toolkit which will be piloted with schools in the autumn.