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Design Matters? The effects of new schools on Students’, Teachers’ and Parents’ actions and perceptions.

This is a study of post-occupancy usage of five newly build schools. Its aim is to understand the impacts of design of such schools on students’, teachers’ and parents’ engagement in the educational process on a number of levels. This addresses an important policy issue but also has implications for architectural practice, educational theory and methodology.

The research team brings together leading academic researchers in education (recognised for contributions to both theory and methodology and with considerable experience of empirical work in schools) with leading architects in the field of school design, supported by representatives from their principal professional bodies.

Using a variety of methods, we aim to arrive at by far the most comprehensive account yet of differences (should there be any) that newly designed schools, of a variety of types, make to children’s educational experience, to teachers, and to other users of schools. This will inform policy debate as well as making contributions to theory, which in education is limited on the issue of how school spaces are appropriated as learning and social spaces, and in architecture is limited in terms of designing for specifically educational outcomes.

The project is supported by RIBA and BCSE and its progress will be informed by a steering group involving professional architects and those involved in school building policy as well as the project team.