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Give pupils a say on the state of school buildings

18 February 2010

As new research shows that the design and condition of school buildings can have an effect on learning outcomes, the Centre for FM Development at Sheffield Hallam University sets up a schools network to see how pupils can have a say on improving school buildings.

Condition Matters, a paper published by Sheffield Hallam University after funding by the CfBT Education Trust, says that FM has an important role to play in ensuring youngsters are asked for their opinions on school building design after finding apparent links between design, condition and achievement. In response, a schools network has been developed by the Centre for Facilities Management Development at Sheffield Hallam, to discuss how pupils can have more of a say on how school buildings can be improved. The member-funded network is open to schools, Building Schools for the Future providers and local education authorities.
Dr Ilfryn Price, Professor of Facilities Management at Sheffield Business School at Sheffield Hallam University, said: "We wanted to demonstrate how the design and management of buildings made a difference to pupils and their perceptions of learning. We have established a schools network to give an objective means of assessing school quality as it is perceived by pupils. It is vital that universities are involved in discussions about what represents a good physical learning space so our buildings can be appropriate for young people in years to come."
Two schools - both in Sheffield - were visited to assess pupils' opinions on school buildings. One school was in a state of disrepair while the second was a recently-built establishment.
In the poorly-maintained school attitudes towards the using of interactive white boards were dismissive and almost half the pupils said that poor environment adversely affected teachers and could de-motivate staff and pupils.
Dr Price added: "It could be that pupils are less inclined to respond positively to new technology when the buildings themselves are of a poor standard."
The research paper, Condition Matters, is available at http://shura.shu.ac.uk/1006
Network details are available at from e.v.clark@shu.ac.uk


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