How can your school do things better?

There needs to be better evidence for the decisions we make when designing and creating learning environments. Much of what is done, is based on ‘evidence’ that is often not substantiated yet presented as if it were the final word. My friend Peter Lippman, in his book “Evidence-based design for Primary and Secondary Schools” relentlessly and rightly argues the point. Indeed Peter Barrett alludes to this in his recent study that led to his “Clever Classroom” report (see my post: Understanding Complexity in Clever Classrooms).


So, can your school do things better? At the OECD Centre for Effective Learning Environments we are aiming to provide answers.

A question that people face when building a new school, renovating an existing one or even just making modifications, is how do we convince those who hold the purse strings to make the investment?

A funder will ask, how do we know the investment is worth it?

Those running the school and indeed their funders may well ask, how do we get better use out of our buildings?

We are launching a field trial of the first module of our Learning Environments Evaluation Programme (LEEP) on the “Effectiveness, Efficiency and Sufficiency of the Physical Learning Environment: A tool for school improvement”.

The aim of the project is to improve the evidence base on how investment physical learning environments translates into improved learning and other outcomes (non-cognitive outcomes such as health, well-being, retention, self-confidence, collaboration and so on), leads to more effective and by extension more efficient use of the resource.

The way that we do this is through surveys of schools and school networks using internationally validated instruments that we have developed for teachers, students and principals, and collecting contextual data on the schools, with some qualitative work thrown in.

The results will be used to provide feedback to schools about how they might make more effective and efficient use of their buildings and outside spaces as well as provide more general lessons for all.

We are now recruiting for the field trial which we hope to start running later this year – we are looking for around 35 schools in each four countries which enables us to test the ideas in different contexts.

If you, know of a school district or education authority (national or local) that might be interested in being involved, let me know.

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