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What physical factors in the classroom environment facilitate learning and to what extent has this research been applied in the design of a new Bristol school procured through PFI?

Part 1 Dissertation 2008
John Killock
University of the West of England Bristol UK
This study investigated the physical factors which facilitate learning through a wide-ranging literature review. A series of criteria were established from this research and these were used to investigate the extent to which past research had been considered in the design of a new school constructed using the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) for the Building Schools for the Future programme.

The literature review revealed that whilst there have been a wide range of studies conducted to suggest the learning environment can influence student learning, the studies were often sporadic and not collated into a large literature base.

Testing the criteria on the classrooms of Bedminster Down School in Bristol revealed that in many cases past research had been considered but budget restrictions and impracticality made these design features unfeasible. It was also noted that a lack of published literature and limited professional consultation affected the extent to which existing research was used in the design of the classrooms.

However, the criteria also discovered that many areas of research were considered and implemented into the design of the classrooms and some unique design features had been included not often normally found in new schools.

The study concluded that much of this research was implemented because of the extensive consultation with the teaching staff. The study discovered that this was not normal for schools procured through PFI and that Bedminster had benefited from Bristol City Council appointing an educational consultant as a key communicator between stakeholders and other professionals.

The study makes some key recommendations with regard to improving the literature base and the amount of past research made available to those involved in the procurement of new learning environments.

John Killock

I read a number of iterations of this extraordinary piece of work during the supervision phase. It was current, and clearly grounded in a thorough reading of both academic and policy literature.

Appropriate use was made of interviews, often in the face of reluctance by interviewees to co-operate. The analysis was thorough and convincing.

The work as originally written greatly exceeded the standards required at undergraduate level, and this student has been encouraged to consider taking a research degree to continue his evident commitment to this field. This was a truly excellent dissertation.

Thom Gorst
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