A guide to participation: what we have learnt so far

Find out how you can get a variety of school users to participate in designing your schools.  

Children wearing school uniform playing in the sand surrounded by grass.

The potential impact of participation in school design can be remarkable. It offers excellent educational opportunities and provides a means to unlock ideas and potential of our students in thinking about the environments in which they live and learn. 

Why do you need this guide? 

This short guide takes you through what participation is, why we do it, when we do it and who does it. One of the many benefits, from the point of view of a project manager or a schoolteacher, is that it can act as a tool for change.  

It gathers evidence of how school users want to learn and provides a strong mandate for what change can look like. 

Not only can it provide a number of educational benefits in its own right, but it also offers the opportunity to truly build services around the needs of communities, for communities. 

What you can expect to find in the guide

Within the guide there are a series of scenarios and examples which demonstrate the breadth and scale of potential participation projects, based on our experience of working in schools. They include: 

  • modern flexible learning spaces 
  • school grounds and stimulating learning environments 
  • streetscape, towns and regeneration 
  • active play and learning 
  • local environment and learning 
  • connections with landscape 
  • involving stakeholders 

Resource: a guide to participation - what we have learnt so far

Download this guide to find out how you can apply a collaborative approach to your school’s design. 

“Good consultation means better outcomes - engaging with, consulting and involving all the potential users and interests helps to highlight expectations, identify the options and refine the objectives” 

 Building Better Schools: Investing in Scotland’s Future 

Re:imagine - participation in school design

As part of a wider exhibition looking at The Re:Design Option, this video reveals how working with pupils to describe their neighbourhood, campus or school, offered a rich source of ideas of how these places could change. 

When viewed from the creative perspective of pupils, these physical places reveal unique potential and new possibilities. 

This exhibition occurred between 19th April – 27th May 2013. 

Header image credit: Malcolm Cochrane Photography

A wealth of resources for school environments

We have a variety of learning resources and case studies available on our website that focus on good design for educational settings. If you are in the process of starting a new project or require best practice examples of well-designed school environments, visit our page below.

Learn more