The effects of the primary classroom environment on the implementation of the National Curriculum
This thesis focuses on the architectural design of Key Stage 2 primary classrooms in relation to the National Curriculum, identifying physical attributes of classrooms that enable or inhibit its delivery, providing evidence of how it is possible to improve primary classroom design in the form of a Classroom Design Brief. The National Curriculum is central to policies to raise standards, determining the content of what should be taught and the research focuses on primary school classrooms, a very specific school environment in which teachers and pupils interact during the process of learning. Initially the study describes the ways in which the class and classroom are structured to facilitate teaching and learning and analysis of the National Curriculum and how it is put into effect in the primary classroom. Four main research instruments that addressed the research questions were developed and applied. Initially the Classroom Survey Questionnaire was used to review teachers' experiences of implementing the National Curriculum in classroom environments currently in use. This was followed by observational studies using Classroom Data Sheets, Lesson Data Sheets and Teacher Interview Sheets to analyse how existing classroom environments match current design guidelines by observing the classroom environment in use during teaching and learning activities associated with the National Curriculum. The study indicates that there is a strong relationship between the classroom environment and the teaching and learning strategies associated with the National Curriculum, revealing that certain physical attributes of existing classroom environments inhibit the delivery of the National Curriculum and concludes that it is possible to improve the design of primary classroom environments. In order to facilitate the better design of primary classrooms a Classroom Design Brief has been developed that combines existing guidelines, regulations, research findings and Architectural Recommendations. Allowing the client team to define the brief, identifying individual needs, assessing their implications and determine priorities.