Research into pupil engagement in building schools for the future

Client: Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment | NFER Contact: Anne Wilkin

Recent years have witnessed a growing commitment to including young people’s voice in research, evaluation and consultation, the benefits of which have been widely reported. For example, seeking the views of children and young people and involving them in decision making is reported to improve services, improve decision making, enhance the democratic process, enhance young people’s skills, promote their sense of responsibility, and empower and enhance their self-esteem.

The Building Schools for the Future (BSF) initiative aims to change and enhance students’ and teachers’ educational experiences and to create more opportunities for lifelong learning within the wider school community. It will provide the chance to develop inspirational learning environments and engage students in the creative process of design. Central to this initiative is the consultation with and involvement of a range of service users including students, teachers, non-teaching staff, parents, governors, community groups and stakeholder/partner agencies.

However, in spite of the potential that BSF offers up in terms of student participation and involvement, relatively little is known about the levels of pupil/student engagement in the first schools involved in the process. Accordingly, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) has commissioned this research to canvass the views of a sample of school representatives who have participated in the first BSF waves. In this way, their experiences, thoughts and perceptions can be used to help inform the development of subsequent stages of the BSF programme.

Research questions

The research aims to provide answers to the following four key questions.

Impact and outcomes

A final report will be presented to CABE and the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) by the end of March 2008.

Research design and methods

The research will comprise two strands:


It is anticipated that this research will be of interest to CABE, DCSF, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), secondary schools (both those already involved in BSF and those still to come on board), staff within those schools, and any other organisation seeking to engage with children and young people.

Time scale: January 2008 - March 2008

NFER Project Code: PEB