The effects of the school environment on young people's attitudes towards education and learning

Education Schools Great Britain

Partnerships for Schools (PfS) is responsible for delivering the government’s secondary school renewal programme, Building Schools for the Future (BSF).  PfS is working with local authorities and the private sector to rebuild or renew every one of England’s 3,500 state secondary schools during the 15-year lifetime of the multi-billion BSF programme.  PfS’s education and design specialists work with local authorities to develop education visions to create innovative and exciting learning environments for schools. 


 The first new build school, delivered by a Local Education Partnership, opened in Bristol in September 2007.  The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) was been commissioned by PfS to assess the impact of the school environment on young people’s attitudes towards their education and learning. The research comprised ‘before’ and ‘after’ surveys administered to students in year groups 7 and 8 in this first BSF school.  Students were surveyed about their thoughts on their school environment, the learning opportunities available to them and their views on their new school.


The key research objective of the study was:

• To demonstrate the difference that BSF schools are making to young people’s attitudes towards education and learning, as measured by their levels of engagement and enthusiasm for school.

This key research objective was further broken down into a number of research questions.  These included the following: 

• Has the new school environment contributed to students’ levels of motivation and engagement?
• Do students think that the new buildings/facilities have created better learning opportunities?
• Has the move from old to new buildings affected students’ study skills or their learning behaviours?
• Have students’ attitudes to school changed in any notable ways?
• Have students’ feelings of self-worth, self-esteem and self-efficacy been affected by the new environment?

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