Week B

Vote for Highdown to Win a £10,000 Redecoraton Prize


Highdown School needs your help to win much-needed £10,000 colour and design makeover in national competition with Dulux! An initiative promoting learner-led design to engage children in the classroom.


Highdown School in Emmer Green has beaten off competition from across the country to be shortlisted in a national contest to win £10,000 worth of colour and design services to create a photography studio.

In need of a workable space for the hugely popular photography course, the “dark and dreary” old technology classroom has been nominated for a pupil-led redresign to transform it into an inspiring space.

Head of Art at the school, Vicki Coleman, comments: “Photography is a popular course but students have never had a ‘photography’ classroom and often have to move from room to room each lesson. This current room does not promote the image that we want to portray with its drab walls and sad mismatched furniture. Photography and art are exciting and dynamic  at Highdown and we want the room to reflect this. We would also like to have a gallery wall which showcases the fantastic work the students produce. We encourage our learners to be creative, innovative and aim high; we feel this art room could support us in this goal.”

The competition is being run in association with Dulux Smarter Spaces, an initiative which promotes the concept of ‘learner-led design’ and the effective use of colour and design in schools. The aim is to encourage pupils to be actively involved in the decoration planning process, with the belief that by designing their own learning spaces children are likely to be more engaged in the classroom.

Recent research carried out to mark the launch of the Dulux Smarter Spaces initiative showed that an overwhelming majority of teachers and head teachers consider the school environment to affect pupils’ academic life. Nearly 40% said a neglected environment such as a classroom affected learning, with 28% claiming it can have a negative effect on behaviour and a fifth (20%) believing attendance is affected.

Wider evidence overwhelmingly suggests that optimised classroom design and redecoration, based on the use of specific colours, has a tremendous impact on student and teacher experiences, improving cognitive development, wellbeing and attainment. A study by the University of Salford showed that differences in the physical characteristics of classrooms explained 16% of the variation in learning progression, with colour itself accounting for 12% of that. *

Led by Matthew Burton, of Channel 4’s Educating Yorkshire who is now Assistant Head Teacher at Thornhill Community Academy in Dewsbury, the competition will see one primary school and one secondary school each win the enormous prize to help revitalise their learning environments.

Matthew Burton comments: “My years as a teacher have taught me how important the aesthetics of a school are in inspiring learning in the classroom. I’ve seen first-hand the effects that school environments can have both on the part of the pupils and the teachers - the way a classroom and a school looks can have a huge impact.”

Schools around the country were invited to submit a 300-word entry explaining why they would be most deserving of a £10,000 transformation provided by Dulux Smarter Spaces. Just six secondary schools are now in the running.

Entries will be open to a public vote until Friday 8th September, when a panel of judges, including Matthew Burton, Professor Stephen Heppell, a pioneer of global education projects, and colour and design experts from Dulux, will decide upon the two deserving winning schools according to set criteria.

To help your local school win, please visit www.schoolofdreams.co.uk and vote for Highdown School’s entry.

For further information on Dulux Smarter Spaces, please visit www.duluxsmarterspaces.co.uk


*Clever Classrooms, Summary report of the HEAD Project (Holistic Evidence and Design), Professor Peter Barrett, Dr Yufan Zhang, Dr Fay Davies, Dr Lucinda Barrett, 2015.