Can classroom layout affect speaking and listening skills? Up to 50% of children enter primary school with poor speaking and listening skills. This programme looks at the Basic Skills Agency’s Communication Friendly Spaces initiative aimed at improving those skills.This involves a fundamental re-think of basic classroom layout. Research from around the world indicates that noise pollution, harsh lighting, use of primary colours and a busy, cluttered feel to a classroom all contribute to an environment which fails to encourage good communication skills. Proponents of the new ideas argue that thought should also be given to the use of displays of pupils’ work, which may also fail to promote the most positive learning environment.
The programme visits two schools which have pioneered the use of neutral colours,a ‘de-cluttered’ feel and the use of more natural or diffuse lighting. But some of the ideas are contentious and the programme ends with a debate between a new thinker and a primary head with traditional ideas.

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