Giving young school children a sense of ownership of "their" classroom promotes a sense of self-worth and responsibility and has also been shown to improve academic performance.
The last big expansion in school building across Europe occurred in the 1970s, and most of these schools are now in need of renovation. Since these schools were built, many studies have been conducted into how the physical environment of schools – and specifically the design of classrooms – affects student learning.
One such study was the HEAD Project (2015)¹. It comprised detailed surveys of 153 classrooms from 27 different schools across the UK. It showed that the physical design of the classroom can affect children's learning progress by up to 16% and recommends improvements to classroom design such as more natural daylight, better ventilation and improved acoustics.
The HEAD Project also studied the effect of the SIN design principles – stimulation, individualisation and naturalness – on children's learning.
It found that one quarter of the aforementioned variation in learning progress was due to individualisation (or the lack thereof) of classrooms. In other words, children's academic performance improved markedly in classrooms where they felt a sense of ownership and where the classroom itself had the flexibility to cater for different learning modes.