Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

The risks of standardised school building design: Beyond aligning the parts of a learning environment

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Pamela Woolner, Ulrike Thomas



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


School design in any epoch reflects the collective values and attitudes of the time, and the politicalcurrents which shape perspectives. In this paper, we consider the risks associated with an Englishschool’s rebuilding under the Priority School Building Programme, a standardised approach toschool design, tending to result in ‘traditional’ instead of ‘innovative’ designs. At a micro scale,risk is affective, influencing educators’ ontological security. We also consider the macro-levelrisk of shaping citizens through education policy reflecting particular values. This case study,in a UK secondary school, explores theoretical frameworks that can be used to investigaterisks involved in rebuilding projects. It is well established that misalignment between structuralresources, approaches to pedagogy and social relations presents a significant risk for schoolredesign. Although the case study project was a relatively smooth transition at the local level, withalignment between set, epistemic and social design, we argue that there can be a philosophical riskassociated with conservatism in schooling design and a focus on performativity and conformity.Giving consideration to policy-led schooling decisions, we argue for the importance of alignmentbetween design elements in the context of wider consideration around the purposes of education.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Woolner P, Thomas U, Charteris J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Education Research Journal

Year: 2022

Volume: 21

Issue: 4

Pages: 627-644

Print publication date: 01/07/2022

Online publication date: 06/06/2021

Acceptance date: 04/05/2021

Date deposited: 18/06/2021

ISSN (print): 0032-3217

ISSN (electronic): 1467-9248

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/14749041211021262


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric