Future Schools

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Does a school building make any difference to teaching and learning?

The contribution that the quality of school buildings makes to a child’s educational experience is, perhaps surprisingly, debatable. There are those that argue that the most important factor is the quality of teaching, and it doesn’t really matter if it takes place in a pre-fabricated mobile from the 1970s or a brand new award-winning architect-designed vision of the future. And indeed, re-locating a failing school into an expensive bright and shiny new-build does not in itself turn it in to a success. Labratory design from Innova Solutions is one manufacturer that can offer solutions for schools.

But most teachers would agree that the size, shape and functionality of a school building does have an impact on the culture of the institution in terms of the general behaviour and attitudes of the learners, either facilitating or hindering certain types of teaching and engendering a sense of calm or disruption in terms of movement and noise. 

At a time when cuts to funding reduce possibilities it is essential that good architectural and environmental design is foremost, especially in the context of Michael Gove’s limited understanding that the role of architects in the design of schools being just to do with what it looks like rather than how it actually works.

Innovative Design for Existing and New Buildings:


With this in mind, an informed dialogue is absolutely essential and any school senior leadership team facing the task of working with a team of architects to specify new or re-purposed school buildings needs to read this book.

Take a look at @TeacherToolkit‘s experience of moving from an old to a new school building during the academic year.

The contents cover developing the client brief, the design of outdoor environments, the refurbishment, remodelling and extension of existing buildings, enhancing the learning environment, and managing change, each illustrated by various case-studies.

The text is concise and clear, making it highly accessible to the non-architect, and the end of chapter conclusions are particularly helpful.

The content is also excellently and attractively presented: like all successful buildings, the book works well and looks good too.

You can read an extract here.

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Tristram Shepard writes for Teacher Toolkit. You can read more of Tristram’s articles here and blogs via All Change Please.

He can be found on Twitter at @TristramShepard.

Tristram Shepard

Tristram writes and researches for the Teacher Toolkit site. His work with Ross McGill spans over 15+ years! He first trained in 3D Design before becoming head of art, design and technology in a secondary school, building a national reputation as a leading centre for development in Design Education. Following a number of publications, he became the Series Editor/Author of the highly successful ‘Design & Make It!’ and ‘Getting IT Right’ textbooks and resources for Nelson Thornes. Since then he has worked as an Ofsted team member and as a consultant researcher for the Goldsmith’s Technology Research Unit’s e-scape on-line portfolio and LiveAsess system. Since 2010, he has been writing a regular blog under the name of All Change Please!