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Two thirds of schools lack funding for basic improvement

Overwhelming majority of teachers consider the school environment to affect pupils' academic life

Posted by Joe Lawson-West | June 02, 2017 | Facilities & buildings

A study into the state of the nation’s schools has revealed that an overwhelming majority of teachers and head teachers consider the school environment to affect pupils’ academic life. Nearly 40% said a neglected environment such as a classroom affected learning, with 28% claiming it can have a negative effect on behaviour and a fifth (20%) believing attendance is affected, according to the study, carried out to mark the launch of the Dulux Smarter Spaces 2017 initiative.

Following recent reports of a crisis in school funding availability, two thirds (66%) said the government is not doing enough to help schools prioritise necessary improvements to areas used by pupils. Almost half of the teachers and head teachers polled said their school had made no or insufficient improvements in the past year and more funds were needed to enable required school refurbishments.

Classrooms were the worst affected, with 70% saying they needed work. Interestingly the toilets were also identified as key areas in need of improvement, according to 48%.

The highest level of satisfaction with regard to improvements was among teachers at city technology colleges, with 67% saying works had been carried out and their environment had improved, while on average a third of schools had not seen any works carried out in the past year.

My years as a teacher have taught me how important the aesthetics of a school are in inspiring learning in the classroom

Interestingly, the level of funding satisfaction showed an unexpected north-south divide. Almost half (49%) of teachers and head teachers in the south felt their school lacked sufficient funding to improve its environment, compared with 36% in the north and 35% in the midlands.

For two years running, the Dulux Smarter Spaces initiative has been championing a movement to improve education environments, supporting schools to achieve better learning outcomes through the power of effective use of colour and design. Promoting the concept of learner-led design, the initiative was established to help schools thrive based on the belief that a vibrant space can help inspire teachers and students alike.

Led by Dulux Smarter Spaces Ambassador Matthew Burton of Educating Yorkshire fame, who is now Assistant Head Teacher at Thornhill Community Academy in Dewsbury, the initiative is informed by an influential coalition of education experts.

Matthew Burton comments: “My years as a teacher have taught me how important the aesthetics of a school are in inspiring learning in the classroom. I’ve seen first-hand the effects that school environments can have both on the part of the pupils and the teachers - the way a classroom and a school 'looks' can have a huge impact. I am so thrilled to be working with Dulux on the Smarter Spaces initiative and hope it can inspire a movement towards making small changes to improve the spaces in which we teach and learn.”

A competition has been launched to celebrate the initiative, which will see one primary school and one secondary school each win a £10,000 colour and design transformation to revitalise their learning environment.

Teachers have until the 16th June to submit a simple entry of up to 300 words and an image, stating why their school is the most deserving. The winning schools will be chosen by a panel of judges including Matthew Burton and global education pioneer Professor Stephen Heppell, plus colour and design experts from Dulux.

Visit duluxsmarterspaces.co.uk/competition to find out how to enter (T&Cs apply).

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