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Architects Not Teachers Caused School Failures

Date:
July 25, 2007
Source:
University of Manchester
Summary:
The lack of space in halls, gyms, canteens and other areas is to blame for many problems which blight today' s secondary schools, according to a recent study. The researcher says school design impacts on the curriculum and encourages gender stereotyping, bullying, anti-social behaviour and alienation.
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The lack of space in halls, gyms, canteens and other areas is to blame for many problems which blight today' s secondary schools, according to a University of Manchester study.

Naomi Breen, who is studying secondary school buildings for a PhD, says school design impacts on the curriculum and encourages gender stereotyping, bullying, anti-social behaviour and alienation.

Mrs Breen, who is also a teacher, surveyed 18 secondary schools – nine in Burnley and nine in Berkshire - gaining access to historical records and documents which threw new light on the issue.

A root of the problem, she says, is the shortages of space and overcrowding created by the raising of the school leaving age to 16 planned in 1944 and implemented in 1972.

In 1944, architects were not allowed to plan and build schools for future changes in educational approach, use or size.

The shortages were compounded by 1950 government regulations to save space and costs resulting in dual purpose areas such as combined hall and dining rooms and merged corridors and classrooms.

She said: The problems in building design provide a powerful illustration of how secondary moderns were inevitably inferior to the established grammar schools.

“Unlike secondary moderns, many grammar schools had sixth forms which meant they were large enough to offer a full five or seven year secondary school education.

"As a result of chronic lack of space, multipurpose rooms are still common in many of these schools today, despite the problems of food, mess, noise and waste.

“After 1944, the shanty towns of temporary school buildings became a permanent feature of many modern secondary schools and this impacted on their effectiveness.”

She added: "Teachers had little or no say in the design of schools and interpretations of the architect' s work lay firmly at the feet of educational theorists. "Educationalists wanted architects to design buildings to fulfil their latest theories, but that posed problems when those theories fell out of favour."

Bike sheds and toilets

Mrs Breen said: " Because of the cost saving requirements, rising populations and lack of consultation with teachers, new buildings were too small and schools were forced to expand.

"But that meant the original shape was lost and the ability to enforce discipline diminished.

"Temporary classrooms, bike sheds, toilets and other out of sight spaces became sites for bullying, hiding, smoking and other anti-social behaviours."

Dining Areas

Mrs Breen said: "As space became a premium, It soon became apparent that the 1944 promise of the single purpose dining room in each school had to be abandoned.

"Local education authorities were encouraged to reduce costs of building programmes by adopting dual use dining rooms that doubled as entrance halls, corridors or classrooms.

"One result was that before 1944, teachers were usually expected to eat with pupils and act as role models.

"But as modern schools emerged, welfare staff and dinner ladies became responsible for pupils manners and behaviour and teachers were able to eat separately.

"Dining areas became noisy places, where poor behaviour and indiscipline were inbuilt - a fact recognised by the schools themselves.

Halls

Mrs Breen said: " Before 1944, many schools had daily whole school assemblies for prayer, communal discipline and a shared cultural experience.

"But the lack of space in many secondary problems put paid to that.

"Halls became a source of considerable noise and disturbance to the whole school."

Gyms

Mrs Breen said: " Gyms also suffer from dual use of space.

"In many schools, gyms are used for examinations - not exactly the ideal environment for such important activity for what has become a central educational activity.

“There is also a detrimental impact on the physical education curriculum.

"This is virtually unheard of in established grammar schools where the exam has always been central to a school' s function."

Labs and workshops

Mrs Breen said: " Workshop and science labs are masculine spaces which mirror ' work' whereas textiles and housecraft rooms are female spaces which mirror home.

"That accepts and embellishes gender stereotyping."

Corridors

Mrs Breen said: "Teachers thought long corridors wasteful and inconvenient.

"The distance a pupil at a school must travel between one subject and another has become so vast that time spent in corridors and out of lessons has increased."


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Manchester. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Manchester. "Architects Not Teachers Caused School Failures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070722224209.htm>.
University of Manchester. (2007, July 25). Architects Not Teachers Caused School Failures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070722224209.htm
University of Manchester. "Architects Not Teachers Caused School Failures." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070722224209.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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