Ferrari facilities don't raise standards

28th October 2005 at 01:00
Academics believe the multi-billion pound scheme to rebuild every secondary in England is unlikely to help raise education standards. They say there is no evidence that student performance improved when facilities went from "a Ford to a Ferrari".

In one of the most extensive studies of its kind, Newcastle university researchers looked at more than 200 reports written over the past 90 years on the impact of learning environments on pupils.

They analysed studies into the effect of light, air quality, noise, colour, furniture and layout of buildings on pupils for a Design Council-commissioned report.

They concluded that only "adequate" facilities were necessary to improve performance, while "fancy classrooms" were a waste of money. Modern, open classrooms with lots of natural light seemed to have a positive effect on pupil attitudes. Colourful classrooms and those with innovative desk layout were unlikely to affect standards.

The researchers quoted one report which said: "Student achievement lags behind in shabby school buildings, but it does not show that student performance rises when facilities go from the equivalent of a Ford to a Ferrari - from decent buildings to those equipped with fancy classrooms, swimming pools, television production studios and the like."

Relatively cheap improvements to furniture, lighting or the school's colour scheme could bring benefits.

But the researchers said many well-established schools, housed in "old"

buildings which do not employ modern design ideas, did not perform any worse than neighbouring new schools.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said:

"Spending on school buildings does not guarantee success, but teachers have had to work in second-rate facilities for too long."

Meanwhile, the Department for Education and Skills believes that BSF offers "a unique opportunity to tackle a generation of under-investment in our schools".

"Good design, developed through consultation with teachers, pupils and the wider community is at the heart of this programme and will make sure that new or modernised buildings are equipped to meet the needs of the end users," he said.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today