Positive impact of good design

17th June 2005 at 01:00
Joe Nutt needs to emphasise the link between developing an educational vision and building a new school (Lessons in mixing cement, TES, June 20).

Of course we need our teachers to be visionaries, but they also need to be working in suitable environments - dark corridors, leaking roofs and draughty windows make the process of inspiring children full of stumbling blocks.

The approach to building or refurbishing schools and the realisation of a learning culture should never be exclusive of each other. If we want to avoid new schools becoming a millstone round the neck of future generations because of poor design, we must learn from our past mistakes. Enabling our children, staff and communities to participate directly in the design of new schools is one way to help make that happen, with the added bonus that they end up with a building they're both proud of and part of.

By participating, young people also learn about mathematics, physics, geography, sociology and history. Add teamwork, creativity, diplomacy and problem solving, and they're developing skills they'll need as they grow older. Glass and concrete (and a number of other building materials) do indeed have a role to play in influencing the behaviour of our children. We ignore that fact and the opportunities it offers at our peril.

Our "A-Z sketchbook of School Build and Design" shows how not to just build new "old" schools. Real participation and ownership is key.

Ty Goddard Managing director School Works London SE1

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