Designing Primary Schools for the Future
Citation:Darmody,Merike; Smyth,Emer; Doherty,Cliona, Designing Primary Schools for the Future, Dublin, ESRI, October, 2010
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International research has indicated the importance of school design for pupil engagement, learning and achievement. Aspects of the school environment, including school and classroom density, class size, quality of lighting, ventilation and absence of noise, have been found to significantly enhance pupil experiences and outcomes. However, many commentators have argued that trends in school design have not kept pace with changes in teaching and learning, with many classroom settings remaining teacherfocused rather than child-centred and insufficiently flexible to accommodate new technology. There has been very little empirical research in the Irish context on the implications of school design for teaching and learning in primary schools, in spite of revisions to the guidelines for school design in 1978 and 2000, culminating in the current guidelines which date from 2007. National population projections indicate that the number of enrolments into primary schools will continue to rise in coming years. This will require new school buildings and it is, therefore, timely to consider the nature and quality of these schools. This study, Designing Primary Schools for the Future, explores the perceptions of students, teachers and key stakeholders of the interaction between school design and teaching and learning in the Irish context, specifically focusing on primary schools. In particular, the study draws on interviews with key stakeholders along with detailed case-studies of six primary schools. The research encompasses perceptions on existing primary schools, covering the range from older buildings to those built according to current design guidelines. This summary presents the main findings of our research and indicates the implications for the future design of primary schools. The Primary Curriculum (1999) is seen as having contributed to a greater diversity in teaching methodology and the use of more active learning approaches within the classroom. In keeping with previous research, however, our study indicates a persistence of teacher-focused approaches and scope for greater usage of group work and play-based learning in order to enhance pupil engagement. School design is seen by education stakeholders as playing an important role in potentially facilitating or constraining the effective delivery of the primary curriculum. In the remainder of this summary, we discuss the role of school design in terms of: school and classroom size; indoor space within the school; use of new technologies; outdoor space; and the implications for future design.
Type of material:Report
Series/Report no:ESRI Research Series;16
Availability:Full text available