Judging a school by its appearance?
Is that smart?
SCAS looks good – I mean physically good. The new Iona Performing Arts Centre, the Columba Cottage Early Learning Centre, the gardens, the classrooms, the grounds, the Iona Sports Centre, the Library etc. all look good (actually very, very good).
We use architects, designers and experts to ensure that our buildings are well-constructed and user friendly.
We have an incredibly hardworking team of ground staff, gardeners and cleaners who make sure that, despite being inhabited each day by over 1,200 people, the school still looks great each morning.
Thankfully, I can also say that the majority of our students respect the resources they are provided with and the incidents of damage or vandalism in the school is incredibly low. Therefore, we do not have to waste money replacing what was broken, abused or damaged. We get to use it to improve learning.
So, why is it important for the school to “look good”?
It is important because the way the school looks not only says something about our self-respect as a community, it is about using and valuing the resources we have so that our school provides a clean, safe and ordered environment in which to learn.
But what has that got to do with education?
We are aware that the money that is poured into our school should and must be used effectively. We know the way our campus looks has an impact on how we feel when we work here – staff and students. We plan, develop and use resources carefully, strategically and with a view to creating an environment that says to our staff and students “We care. We care for you. We care for the environment you learn in.”
Let us consider the alternatives. Where would you learn best?
Fact: Education is expensive.
Buildings, resources, teachers etc. are not cheap. So, why waste money letting things degrade, be destroyed and letting this have a negative impact on the education we can offer.
“Nearly a third of government high schools in Sydney are “neither efficient nor effective”, according to a new study that finds poor use of resources by schools is often linked to students’ low Australian Tertiary Admission Ranks. You could argue that whole lives are being destroyed by students not being treated in a way that they can actually excel.”” Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2017.
We don’t like to waste. We don’t like to see good things destroyed. We know our parents want value for money. We know taking care counts, not only in dollar terms but in terms of what we can give to our students. Like the research says:
Student achievement is often purely looked at from the perspective of the strength of the curriculum and the quality of the teachers. However, study after study demonstrates that facilities themselves have a huge impact on student behavior, grades, teacher tenure and even community satisfaction!
How does poor maintenance affect students?
1) Student Behaviour – studies show a relationship between the physical learning environment and student behaviour. Broken Window Theory states that physical disorder, such as broken windows, run-down buildings, etc. leads to bad behaviour and disorderly conduct. School facilities that are not in great condition could be the cause of poor student behavior and conduct in the classroom.
2) Student Achievement – facilities have the power to weaken or improve the teaching and learning environment. Higher outcomes have been associated with the design and condition of school facilities. Better results aren’t just based on curriculum!
3) Health – the Sick Building Syndrome states that acoustics, air quality and temperature of facilities affect the stress levels and physical health of building occupants – student and faculty health can be impacted by the physical facilities they are in.
4) Community – aside from building occupants, the physical condition of K-12 facilities can also affect community members. Housing prices change based on the quality and appearance of schools, which can in turn affect a school’s incoming student population, community involvement with school activities, and more.
SCAS: Changing the world one student at a time