Clever Classrooms: what teachers can do to make their learning environments more effective

According to The Clever Classrooms report, based on research conducted by the HEAD (Holistic Evidence and Design) project in 153 classrooms across 27 diverse schools, well designed primary school classrooms have a significant impact on attainment. The report offers useful tips for teachers on how to make their classrooms as effective a space to learn in as possible. Here’s a summary of their advice:

Light, airy and not too loud

  • Keep windows clear and free of clutter to maximise the environmental benefits of natural light
  • A classroom with 30 pupils will normally need active ventilation within a one hour lesson; excess CO2 can cause drowsiness so avoiding obstructing access to window openings is important
  • Classrooms should be kept cool but comfortable for optimum learning conditions. Active use of ventilation and blinds is essential to mitigate problems caused by heat gain
  • The effect of adding sound-absorbing treatment to rooms is significant. Soft furnishings and posters are good sound-absorbers.
  • Views through windows of green areas, thought to be of benefit, can be occluded by window displays and furniture so try to maintain a clear view outside



Definition and ownership of the space

  • Younger pupils need several well-defined zones for play-based learning activities. For older pupils, simpler space configurations support more formal teaching.
  • Displaying pupil-created work provides a sense of ownership
  • Quality ergonomic (appropriately sized) furniture and equipment can be used to create a child-centred space



An appropriate level of stimulation and colour

  • A balance between a space that is too boring and one that is too complex is needed while considering the functionality of the space
  • Light walls with a brighter-coloured feature wall create an appropriate level of stimulation
  • Bright colours on furnishings can be introduced as accents to the overall colour scheme.



You can download the full Clever Classrooms report here. (