31 October 2014

Using the built environment to achieve the outcomes of Every Child Matters

By the CABE education team | 19 December 2008

Below are some suggestions on how you can make sure you are placing your students’ welfare at the centre of learning experiences, using buildings, places and the local environment, and at the same time achieving the five outcomes of Every Child Matters.

An image of a boy putting his hand up to an imprint on a wall.

Bodmin College students visit the Eden project 2007. © Chris Saville / APEX

Be healthy
Our physical, mental and emotional health is directly affected by the quality of our built and designed surroundings. Air quality and ventilation, availability of natural light and appropriate spaces for different activities all affect our health and sense of well-being.

There are opportunities in the PSHE and design & technology curricula to explore how the health qualities of a building or space can be improved. For example, you could conduct a project based on the development (real or otherwise) of a garden that exemplifies the value of well-designed space for maintaining personal equilibrium.

Exploring the qualities a space needs in order to serve its chosen purpose could involve an interesting study of dimension, colour and light, as well as an understanding of the value of these elements to personal well-being.

Stay safe
Our safety is dependent on our surroundings in many ways. Buildings need to be secure. They need to be designed to be fit for purpose, using the right materials to guard against accidental injury.

Building design should reduce the risk of internal menaces, for example reducing the role that hidden spaces such as nooks, corners and alleys play in incidences of bullying.

Citizenship, design & technology, geography and PSHE lessons all offer good opportunities for exploring and evaluating spaces in terms of their safety and considering the value and dangers of surveillance.

Accessibility and discrimination in terms of access to buildings and the public realm provide interesting starting points for enquiry.

An image of a girl playing with models of buildings on the floor.

Hackney Empire student visit 2007. © Alys Tomlinson

Enjoy and achieve
Lessons taken outside the classroom provide opportunities for authentic learning experiences and can meet a broad range of learning styles.

There are opportunities for discovering careers in the built environment that students may not be aware of and that can raise achievement levels and engagement.

Understanding architecture and design will increase the pleasure that students take in their surroundings.

Make a positive contribution
By improving the buildings and places around us, we make a positive contribution to our society.

Local planning authorities are obliged to consult their local communities on planning proposals. Contact your local planning department to find out what developments are planned and how your class can get involved.

Engaging in decision-making and consultation processes, both within school projects and as part of the community, will help students develop various life skills as well as improving self-confidence and assurance in their abilities.

Getting students interested and involved in the design of their surroundings can help instil a sense of pride and ownership which works against crime and anti-social behaviour.

Knowing what bad design looks like, why it gets built and what an active citizen can do to prevent it allows us to make a much deeper and more lasting impression on the world.

Achieve economic well-being
There are opportunities for careers in the built environment for many different kinds of interest and levels of academic achievement.

Understanding the benefits of, and demanding, good design through engagement in community consultation will improve the likelihood that all students will live in decent homes and sustainable communities in the future.

Further information
Every Child Matters: Change for children
Building for the Future: How built environment education can deliver the Every Child Matters agenda produced by the Architecture Centre, Bristol (downloadable resource)

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