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Title: A socio-technical method to assess the holistic impact of new buildings on English secondary schools from the perspective of the students
Author: Williams, J. J.
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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Schools within England form a key part of society, educating future generations and providing continuity of lessons between generations. Recent UK governments have recognised their place within society and attempt to improve them through large building improvement programmes, most notably the recent Building Schools for Future (BSF) programme that aimed to replace or renew every secondary school in England. This focus on the building shows the political importance placed on the physical environment within education, but it is important to determine how the building influences the performance of schools. Previous research into the links between the physical environment and the school have tended to focused on individual aspects of the environment, with exceptions such as Barrett (2013), but to truly understand the influence of the building, the school must be analysed as a whole, capturing the interplay between the various aspects of the environment and school. Capturing a total view of schools, this work established and implemented a holistic socio-technical approach to analysing the school. This approach consisted of two major strands; a national-level analysis of the performance of secondary schools that have received new buildings, and a schoollevel analysis that evaluated the measured and perceived environment of four case study schools. This national-level study necessitated the construction of a large, longitudinal database, merging the school data with the building data, covering a period of 13 years. Within the school-level analysis four main techniques were applied; environmental measurements, spaces syntax analysis of the built form, a bespoke student questionnaire, and an immersive virtual feedback tool (the Interactive Space Analysis Tool, ISAT) developed as part of this research. These four tools were co-analysed using multi-level modelling, enabling comparisons between the results of the different tools. The combination of the national and school level analysis allowed the holistic impact of new school buildings to be analysed. The national level analysis revealed the performance of schools in their new BSF buildings, school attainment improving prior to the move into the new building, but returning to the initial level after four years of occupation. At a school level, the mixedmethods utilised found that the measured internal conditions met the criteria set by the design guidance, with the students noting that the look and feel of the school was the most important aspect of the building. Co-analysing both the national and school level results shows that the school and the building need to operate as one unit to achieve the best results once the initial novelty of the new building declines. Building on the findings, the importance of treating the school as a whole is discussed, with the implications on the school building design noted, as well as suggestions for future holistic studies into the school environment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available