Better school buildings improve pupil behaviour and learning

New school buildings are viewed by students and staff much more positively than older buildings and contribute to reducing negative behaviour, increasing student self-esteem and encouraging students to engage more with school.

This is one of the findings by Dr Eddie Edgerton, an environmental psychologist from the University of the West of Scotland, who presented his research at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference in Glasgow.

Dr Edgerton's study, which is nearing completion, is the first large scale study of its kind in the UK to examine the impact of new school buildings and measure how staff and students perceived their buildings. It also assessed a number of important educational outcomes such as academic achievement, self-esteem, motivation, negative behaviours. The study took place in central Scotland where the local authority has recently completed a £100million project to build six new secondary schools.

Initial analysis indicates that students' perceptions of their physical school environment are related to their 'in-school' behaviour and the ways in which they use and are affected by their learning environment. However, the findings also highlighted variations between younger and older students in that the behaviour and performance of younger students seemed to be more strongly related to their school environment than older students.

Dr Edgerton said: "These findings imply that the physical environment in which teaching and learning take place is important and needs to be considered as a key factor in the educational process."