The Schools Environment Survey of 2010 showed that the learning environment is key to children’s behaviour and happiness - and over 95% of teachers agree.

At Smarter Spaces, we want to help make school environments more attractive, affordable and inspiring for teachers and learners.

To do this, we have gathered all of the evidence from existing research to inform our education design principles.


Areas of Consideration


A common room is an incredibly important area - a place where your learners will study, socialise as well as relax.

In order to do this, you should create a space that matches all of these diverse needs so that learners can leave in the best possible state when they go to lessons.

Engaging learners in the design of one of the only spaces in the school that is solely for them, focusing on the rationale for their suggestions, is an incredibly engaging exercise.


Design Principles


Group Spaces


Pods or zoned areas give pupils space to work on projects as part of a team; but they must be designed so not to overwhelm the room and disturb those who prefer to work independently. Consider using bold accent colours on furniture, walls and floors to indicate group zones.


Quiet Areas


Create dedicated quiet spaces with clever use of furniture and a distinct, more muted colour palette - think calming purples and greens. This will designate space for pupils who want time-out, yet minimise the problem of poor visibility.




The Design Council confirms that a key concern of school children is safety and visibility. Without having to resort to (expensive) structural work, you can increase visibility by reducing temporary structures like lockers - so there are fewer corners for bullying to go undetected.


Case Study


IPACA, Isle of Portland


With a budget of £5,000, the learners of IPACA were challenged to research, design and decorate their sixth form centre to match the way they wanted to learn. IPACA encourages learners to engage in research to support their design suggestions. As a result the learners included a few standard elements such as a pool and ping pong tables, but complemented it with a giant wall stencil that they could colour in throughout the year. Most importantly though, the back wall was dedicated entirely to showcasing the process and journey that the learners had gone through in order to reach their end product - ensuring constant affirmation of their role and impact on each other.


Getting Started


Useful Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Do our common rooms provide space for relaxation and work?
  • Is the common room consistent with the school identity?
  • Are there particular areas where bullying is most prevalent?

The Perfect Product


Diamond Matt, our most durable paint ever, will look better for longer and is perfect for busy areas that take lots of knocks.


How We Can Help You


Download as PDF


Get in touch


Contact us to find out how we can help. If you’re already carrying out design projects in your school, we’d love to see how you’re getting on! Share your photos with us on social media.

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