Lighting in classrooms
The ability to obtain maximum daylight in the room is important both mentally and physically. Pupils respond well behaviourally to daylight, and to being able to see outside. Being able to regularly look to short and long distances is also beneficial to eye development.
Pupils having the pleasure of going up to and looking out of a window is something so simple, but so important. Unfortunately this is an aspect of classroom design that many schools overlook. This vital area of a classroom is often obstructed by counters, cupboards, books or other items, which means that pupils, especially the younger ones, cannot actually see anything apart from sky if they’re lucky. We advocate leaving the space under the window completely free, so pupils can go right up to it if they wish.
Nowadays, designers of new schools have to meet strict standards with regards to daylight during the design stages. This often results in the inclusion of windows into adjoining corridor spaces, ensuring that daylight levels are appropriate in all parts of the classroom room as well as the corridor. Unfortunately many teachers undo the carefully calculated measures by sticking paper and posters on to the windows. What they do not realise is that doing this automatically darkens the room, which could potentially have a detrimental effect on pupil performance.
That said, we all recognise that glare can be a huge challenge in many teaching spaces, especially when using interactive whiteboards or projectors. Although new backlit projection screens offer improved visibility for pupils in well-lit rooms, most schools will still need measures in place for reducing glare when the sun is too bright, especially in south-facing rooms. Research has shown that good quality blinds are much more effective and controllable than curtains. Most classrooms now have blinds as standard equipment, and these should only be drawn down in rooms when actually needed, and then raised when the sun has moved.
When artificial lights are on, it is critical that they produce adequate light of sufficient quality, and with the appropriate lux levels to light the room effectively. Staff should always try to raise blinds in the first instance, instead of turning on the lights, in order to provide the most natural and calm environment for their pupils.