School buildings 'not fit' for learning, say teachers

Save our schools rally The survey follows a protest against the abolition of a school rebuilding scheme

Some 26% of teachers do not think their school buildings are an effective learning environment, a poll suggests.

The survey found teachers thought good ventilation, lighting, classroom layout and acoustics were all vital in helping with teaching and learning.

The Teachers Support Network, the British Council for School Environments and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers questioned 503 UK teachers.

It comes after ministers axed a £55bn school rebuilding scheme in England.

On Monday a Save our Schools rally, organised by teachers' unions, saw hundreds of teachers, parents and pupils descend on Westminster to express their anger at the move.

More than 700 schools in England have had their projects cancelled after Education Secretary Michael Gove announced the Building Schools for the Future programme would be scrapped.

The Department for Education said the rebuilding project had been hampered by "needless bureaucracy".

Toilets

Responses to the 2010 school environment survey showed 51% of teachers did not think their school offered a physical environment that could "be adjusted to support delivery of the curriculum".

Among teachers' criticisms of their school buildings was a lack of space for students to relax, and a lack of "exciting, flexible and appropriately sized classrooms for students".

One teacher told researchers: "We currently have 250 more students in our school than we were designed to accommodate."

There were also concerns about toilet facilities - one teacher said: "Students are very vocal about inadequate toilet facilities, which makes them feel unrespected."

Almost all (96%) said a school's environment had an influence over pupil behaviour.

The poll questioned 503 teachers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland between February and this month.

'Dilapidated premises'

British Council for School Environments chief executive Ty Goddard said: "The survey shows school environments matter.

"Money invested in school buildings is an investment in teachers and children, not a wasted luxury. We need professional environments which support our teachers to do their jobs."

Teacher Support Network chief executive Julian Stanley said: "Continued long-term investment to improve many of the dilapidated school premises that still exist across the UK must surely be a wise use of taxpayers' money, benefiting communities for generations to come."

ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said: "Teachers work incredibly hard to give their pupils a good education regardless of the physical environment, but it is much harder for children to concentrate if the classroom is too hot or cold or they can't hear properly.

"We can't stress enough that for teachers and children to teach and learn in an effective manner, school buildings need to be safe, clean, and inspiring."

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