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Chapter image Chapter 21: Strategy 19: Quality of indoor physical environment

Self Evaluation

Please rate your school or a school you have closely observed.




19. Provides a physical environment that enables learning

You ensure that all elements of the physical environment of the classroom that may affect pupils’ ability to learn are optimal. This involves attending to such matters as the design and arrangement of furniture, acoustics, lighting, temperature and ventilation.


Mitchell, 2014, pp223–235.

  1. Furniture and equipment in the classroom are arranged to enable accessibility for learners with mobility difficulties and to manage inappropriate behaviours.
  2. The classroom temperature, humidity and ventilation are controlled to create optimal working conditions.
  3. The lighting is adequate for the range of conditions through the day and the year.
  4. The classroom has optimal acoustics, e.g., a signal-to-noise ratio of at least 15 decibels, and low levels of sound reverberation and ambient noise.
  1. All the indicators are met.
  2. Three of the indicators are met.
  3. One or two of the indicators are met.
  4. None of the indicators are met.

websitesWeb links

National Center for Educational Statistics, Conditions of America’s public school facilities.

Summarizes the ages of America’s public schools.


New Zealand Ministry of Education. Designing quality learning spaces: Heating and insulation. Wellington.

This guideline for heating and insulation is part of a series to help education administrators understand the important role the internal environment plays in the design of quality learning spaces. Other topics in the series include acoustics, ventilation and indoor air quality, lighting and interior design.


The collaborative for high performance schools. Best practices manual, 2002 Edition. III: Criteria. 2002.

Comprehensive coverage of all elements of school design (not just mold!).


Accommodations to the physical environment: Setting up a classroom for students with visual disabilities.

The resources in this module offer helpful tips on setting up the physical aspects of a classroom and introduce the types of equipment used by students with visual disabilities.


The potential advantages of increasing ventilation in schools: Breezway technical bulletin.

Summarizes a range of articles.


Evertson, C., Poole, I. and the IRIS Center (2002). Effective room arrangement.

This group of case studies includes scenarios to introduce students to important concepts regarding classroom arrangement for effective classroom management.


Fielding, R. (2006). Lighting and design for schools and universities in the 21st century.

Contains links to a wide range of school design articles.


journalsJournal links

Imrie, R., and Kumar M. (1998). ‘Focusing on disability and access in the built environment’. Disability and Society, 13(3), 357–374.

This paper provides a documentation and discussion of the diverse experiences that different disabled people have with regards to access in the built environment. It begins by outlining the various ways in which disabled people’s access needs and requirements are articulated in public policies and practices towards the development and regulation of the built environment. It concludes by suggesting a number of ways of interconnecting the design and implementation of public policy towards the built environment with the daily-lived experiences of disabled people.