How classrooms can be designed to boost productivity

Lloyd Coldrick, managing director of Cobus, shares his wealth of knowledge on creating inspiring spaces for the educational sector

A learning space that embraces and nurtures the relationship between teachers and children is crucial in cultivating a culture of working together.

In today’s more progressive classrooms, technology is ubiquitous, collaboration is celebrated, movement is encouraged and multiple activities take place in adaptable environments. The British Council for School Environments recognises the right of young people to learn in an environment which is safe, healthy and achieves the highest-quality education possible.

At Cobus, we have more than 40 years’ experience in creating inspiring classroom designs, with some of our leading clients including the Royal Agricultural University, St Christopher School, Lancing College, Hartpury College, Stonar School, Wiltshire College and the Cherwell Academy.

We find that by giving students the right tools to build upon one another’s thinking, it will help to cultivate a culture of working together. Therefore, by enhancing classroom designs, student and teacher productivity and creativity is also significantly enhanced.

The term ‘multi-sensory’ invokes thoughts of what we see, hear, smell, taste and touch. Effectively incorporating these senses into a classroom design can stimulate students’ motivation, which in turn can increase engagement and performance.

A classroom where stimulating engagement is fostered between teacher and students will ultimately inspire the mind, boost productivity and build the skills of the next generation

Visual stimulation is an integral part of the classroom. Aesthetically pleasing colours have a psychological impact on us, so bright, bold and vibrant designs will enhance the classroom environment, thus boosting student and teacher satisfaction.

Lighting in the classroom is also critical as it has a significant impact on engagement. As well as affecting what and how well we are able to see, lighting indirectly affects our mood and behaviour.

Natural lighting renovations such as large windows with open views, or high-quality LED lighting, will invoke positive feelings and result in happier students, less absenteeism, fewer illnesses and ultimately, increased engagement.

As humans, we all have a deep-rooted genetic connection to the natural world around us. So, by also incorporating direct or indirect biophilic elements of nature into the classroom such as fresh flowers and plants, positive feelings can be invoked, while reducing stress, blood pressure levels and heart rates.

Time out

In addition, creating a breakout zone or individual support area within the classroom where children can take some time away from the rest of the class, will help to improve wellness and alleviate stress, while ultimately fostering interaction among the teacher and their students. For instance, a ‘soft area’ can be used for emotional support and a ‘formal area’ for individual study support.

The atmosphere in these areas is important. They should adopt styles such as the ‘resimercial’ design, creating a home away from home. Warmth and comfort are key and can be achieved through homely furniture, bright colours and natural textures.

Aesthetically pleasing colours have a psychological impact on us, so bright, bold and vibrant designs will enhance the classroom environment, thus boosting student and teacher satisfaction

Open and shared spaces also allow for students to imagine, create and daydream, which is crucial in achieving cognitive development.

A classroom designed with an all-inclusive learning space at its heart has a huge impact on the wellbeing of students and their engagement, so it’s fundamental to maximise this when planning a design.

Flexible tables on castors, comfortable chairs and plentiful writing surfaces allow for a variety of activities and encourage collaborative learning experiences, for both the teacher and the students.

Overall, a classroom where stimulating engagement is fostered between teacher and students will ultimately inspire the mind, boost productivity and build the skills of the next generation.