Benedict Primary School

Well-designed classrooms boost academic success

A recent study from Salford University found that the construction and decoration of classrooms had a significant impact on reading, writing and maths. Professor Barrett who led the research told the BBC: "Individual classroom design played a much bigger role than whole-school factors, such as size, navigation routes, specialist facilities and play areas. In a primary school a child's classroom is their world. So when you are designing a school, you have to make sure each and every classroom works."

The environment is often called the ‘third teacher’ because a truly enabling classroom is a friend to the children and your own best assistant. The first step in arranging your classroom is to regard it from a child’s-eye view. Imagine yourself as a new student standing in the doorway. Does the room entice you to enter and explore? See what happened when this school changed their classroom layout...

Boy at workbench

Understanding how boys learn

With four brothers and three sons, I've always been fascinated by boys' learning. Many teachers have observed that four- and five-year-old boys find it particularly difficult to sit still for long stretches of time. They need lots of vigorous outdoor play. Tricky fine-motor skills like holding a pencil or cutting with scissors become easier after large-motor action.

Men who recall their own childhood can support lads in appropriate ways – but men are scarce in early years. So the rest of us must do our best to understand all the children we work with. Boys often learn best through hands-on activities with real tools. If we focus on their strengths, we can provide what each child needs to feel happy and competent.

block play reflection

Block play reflection

The longer I observe children and blocks, the more respect I gain. This lad for example is experimenting in ways I never dreamed of – and definitely learning about symmetry and geometry in the process.

Too often blocks are viewed as a "toy" to be left behind when children move to primary school. In fact, this is the age when youngsters are becoming most deeply involved! I've seen six-year-olds invent fabulous narratives with blocks and watched a twelve-year-old achieve architectural feats.

If you want to foster creative imagination, literacy, and hands-on learning of maths, physics and design, allow your children ample time with blocks. Then observe the truth of Einstein's words that "Play is the highest form of research."

Learning with blocks

How do you help children love school?

When I was a child the classroom was a place I wanted to escape from! Yet school can be something children anticipate eagerly each day. We’ve been visiting schools and talking to teachers who have created truly irresistible learning environments.The result is The irresistible classroom, a training resource to help teachers prepare classrooms that captivate children with their potential for discovery. The booklet starts by considering how children learn in Reception and Key Stage 1. It goes on to discuss how a classroom might be arranged to stimulate that learning. Lastly we reflect on how the room’s aesthetic message affects the child's motivation.

It's an inspiring topic, and I’m eager to share it.

Request your complimentary copy of The irresistible classroom

Peter Gladwin Primary School

What’s different about this primary school?

When someone says, “We support a variety of children’s learning styles,” what does that mean? When I visited Peter Gladwin Primary School I saw real-life examples. The year one classroom is divided into activity areas. Even in older classrooms, the tables were grouped rather than in rows. Every room includes a beautiful book corner encouraging a love for books and also providing space for small-group work.

The photos in this case study illustrate the ideas that shape this nurturing environment.

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