UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


An evaluation of the performance of schools in new buildings

With the increasing population in the UK, the strain on public services is predicted to increase, particularly on the education sector, where many areas are close to the maximum capacity of students. Successive governments have recognised the upcoming school capacity crisis and have pledged to increase and improve the learning facilities provided. This body of work aims to understand the effectiveness of the new secondary schools already built in light of their aims to improve the school performance and their ongoing legacy. This is been undertaken using two studies; a top-down national level study, and case studies focusing on a small number of schools. 

By producing a national level database of all secondary schools in England and Wales, the longitudinal trends of all the schools have been examined, with the influence of the new building identified in academic metrics, such as GCSE performance as absenteeism. In addition, the energy performances of new school buildings have been compared to the existing building stock, finding significant patterns in the use of electricity and gas. 

This has been complemented with case study analysis that evaluates the influence of the specific aspects of the built environment on the overall school performance. The aspects of the built environment examined include air quality, daylight, acoustics, layout and pollutants. This is examined in conjunction with the occupants’ perspective, collected using a novel online interactive data tool; a hybrid of Google Streetview and the photo-survey method of data collection. Using both top-down and bottom-up analyses of school buildings, a holistic view of the impact of schools will be formed, informing the future crop of school designs to produce optimal buildings.