Your environment has the ability to teach or restrain, to punish or inspire, to excite or suppress. Design your school environment wisely, for your choices will reach further than just the colour of the paint. The choices you make now have the power to inspire the future, from pioneering scientists to government leaders, daring sportspeople and caring parents.
Colour and space
Colours in your space are one of the most obvious variables. Easy to fix, change and update, colours can be used to define and segregate a space as well as for decoration and interest.
Colour psychology is a fascinating subject. There are countless articles that look into the detail of how different colours affect mood and behaviour. These claims are backed up with research. People really do lose their temper more often in yellow rooms, make faster decisions in red spaces and are more creative in blue environments.
Consider the colours in your environment, and always be aware of the overall ‘feeling’ you want the space to engender.
Aside from colours, the space itself has an impact on behaviour too. Deep rooted in human instinct, we feel safer and more inspired in wider spaces with higher ceilings, and more restricted and oppressed in spaces with lower ceilings.
Interactive or individual?
Spaces can help to promote collaboration or encourage solicitude. Through interior design you can create spaces where people come together to interact, or spaces where quiet privacy is upheld. You can also create a space that blends noisy and quiet, for an in-between zone.Through furniture choice and layout, lighting, finishes and acoustic design, you can control how people are using your spaces. You can cater your environment to the characters of individuals using your space, whether it be a quiet focussed working space for an introverted student, or a brightly lit collaboration zone with beanbags for informal and noisy collaboration.
A mix of different spaces will provide your students with a range of learning environments, thereby empowering them to choose the environment best suited to the task in hand.
Attract or repel
Through your environment you can create both positive and negative experiences. A well designed school environment engenders feelings of comfort and welcome. Your space can be organised and clutter free, with adequate furniture and resources. On the other hand, your space can be hostile. There could be peeling paint, dingy lighting or inadequate storage. Clutter and disrepair can repel students, making them feel uncared for and undervalued.
A multi-sensory experience
There are more contributors to behaviour than how your space looks! From noise control, through to comfort, quality furniture, not to mention pervading smells and adequate hygiene and cleanliness levels. You may have the most beautiful looking classroom, but if the chairs are uncomfortable and the tables too low, your students will struggle to give you the best.
Pay attention to all the details and create a school environment that influences behaviour in a positive way.
Improve results, inspire good behaviourIt’s not just our opinion! The University of Salford in Manchester conducted a study to research how much impact classroom design had on student behaviour. They discovered that classroom environments have the ability to impact behaviour and results by a whopping 25%, both positively and negatively. From our own experience too, we’ve seen direct changes in student behaviour as a result of an intelligent environment upgrade. Take Brewer’s Hill Middle School for example –following a dining hall refurbishment project, the teachers reported that the students had improved lunchtime behaviour and were even helping voluntarily with the clearing-up after lunch!
Empower or controlTrust is a huge factor in your school environment, and often overlooked. Between strict rules and credulous empowerment lies a deeper factor that is rooted in the ethos of your school. Your school environment can be a facilitator of change if you are looking to increase student empowerment and trust, and prepare them for a future beyond school.Offering students a choice of environment, as well as the ability to personalise their space encourages them to take ownership and increases respect for school property. On the other hand, a restrictive environment sees students pushing boundaries (as they will), determined to see what they can get away with.
Further back in the process, involving students in the initial design of your new space takes empowerment to new heights. We have tried and tested research methods, designed to collect information and opinions from students in a controlled way. We’ll net opinions and desires without opening all the options up in a free for all.Attitudes and behaviourThroughout this article, we’ve seen how there are many factors that affect student behaviour.
There is one underlying influencer that overrides any other features within your environment.Perception. How your students perceive your space, your school and your rules is more important that the actual truth. It’s often stated that perception trumps reality, and this couldn’t be truer than in a school environment.
So we’ll put the question to you. How is your school environment perceived? By students, teachers, prospective parents or outside visitors?
Time to make some changes? We’ll help you design and build a user-centred school environment design that is fit for modern ways of learning and today’s connected lifestyle .