17 SES 11, 1916-2016 - “Education and Democracy” for a Democratic Learning Space (Part 2)
Symposium continued from 17 SES 10
Physical spaces of education have a complex, dynamic relationship with the activities that take place in them. Quality of environment correlates with student outcomes, but the evidence points to complex chains of influence, as opposed to direct impact on learning (Woolner et al., 2007). As Briggs notes 'the physical environment is a visible sign of the school's culture' (Briggs, 2001: 176) and the ethos of the school affects the way space is engaged with, organised and used (Uline et al., 2009). Thus a new school building, replacing a degraded dated building, has the potential to be a catalyst for other educational changes, enhancing morale and changing attitudes, but this is not a certainty. Research within education consistently suggests the importance of participation in change processes, with more successful change occurring when school staff and students are actively involved in planning and enacting the change (Ouston et al., 1991; Flutter & Rudduck, 2004). This idea has parallels with participatory practices in planning, architecture and design (Woolner, 2015) that are clearly of particular relevance to school re-building (Parnell et al., 2008). Such beliefs about the benefits of participation were key to the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, initiated in 2003, but discontinued in 2010, amid criticism from the James Review (2011) that participation is expensive and inefficient. This paper reports the initial stage of research that will follow an English secondary school (students aged 13-18) through a re-build under the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP), which replaced BSF. The focus is on the students’ existing attitudes to learning, their expectations of the new building and their involvement in the change process. Data was collected through focus groups and a questionnaire that includes questions from a survey of student attitudes used before and after a secondary school rebuild (Rudd et al. 2008). This enables comparisons with the changes in student attitudes found by research that took place in the context of a BSF rebuild. The extent of student involvement in this rebuild will be assessed using the ‘climbing frame of participation’ (Singer & Woolner, 2015: 196). Implications for democratic processes within the new school will be considered.
Briggs, A. (2001) Managing the Learning Environment In D. Middlewood and N.Burton (eds) Managing the Curriculum. London: Sage. Flutter, J. and J. Rudduck (2004). Consulting Pupils: What's in it for Schools? London, Routledge Falmer. James, S. (2011) Review of Education Capital. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/review-of-education-capital (accessed 3.12.15) Ouston, J., Maughan, B. and Rutter, M. (1991) Can Schools Change? II: Practice in Six London Secondary Schools. School Effectiveness and School Improvement 2(1): 3-13 Parnell, R., Cave, V. and Torrington, J (2008) School design: opportunities through collaboration CoDesign, 4, 4, 211-224 Rudd, P., Reed, F. and Smith, P. (2008). The Effects of the School Environment on Young People's Attitudes to Education and Learning. Slough, NFER. Uline, C. L., Tschannen-Moran, M., & De Vere Wolsey, T. (2009). The walls still speak: The stories occupants tell. Journal of Educational Administration, 47(3), 400–426. Singer, J. and Woolner, P. (2014) Exchanging Ideas for the Ever-Changing School In P.Woolner (Ed) School Design Together. Abingdon: Routledge Woolner, P., Hall, E., Higgins, S., McCaughey, C., Wall, K. (2007) A sound foundation? What we know about the impact of environments on learning and the implications for Building Schools for the Future. Oxford Review of Education, 33(1), 47-70.
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