Condition matters: pupil voices on the design and condition of secondary schools

Ilfryn Price

Elizabeth Clark

Michael Holland

Charles Emerton

Claire Wolstenholme

The report describes the first phase of a research project designed to establish a reliable instrument that can be used for assessing pupils’ opinions of the condition of school buildings

In each case, we invited the group to take us on a tour of their school pointing out features that they either liked or disliked. We were shown the schools through the eyes of the pupils. The experience proved both compelling and surprising. We used the results to construct an internet questionnaire that asked in various ways for pupils’ perceived satisfaction with aspects of their school’s facilities and their perceptions of the importance of these. We also invited responses to five open-ended questions.

The researchers’ primary goal was to construct a shorter research instrument intended for wider use and the report explains how we have used factor analysis to achieve that end. A study of only two schools cannot be conclusive about links between facilities (design and condition of physical space) and educational achievement but the common observations and the differences do contain pointers towards such an end. There is a hint in GCSE results of an improvement in the new school. Pupils there described it as like an adult facility whereas those in School 1 spoke of it being harder to feel like trying in such poor space. Going all day without using the terrible toilets can hardly be conducive to learning.