6.2 The classroom environment and the role of the teacher

Classroom environment and classroom management create a framework for the pupils’ well-being and routines for learning. Being able to work undisturbed during lessons also has an impact on how pupils experience their school day.

The learning environment

By learning environment we mean the combination of cultural, relational and physical factors in a school that have an impact on the pupils’ learning, health and well-being.
There are five key factors:

  • The teacher’s ability to manage classes and schemes of work
  • Positive relationships between pupils and teacher
  • Positive relationships and a culture for learning among the pupils
  • Good school-home co-operation
  • Good leadership, organisation and culture for learning in the school

A good working environment in the classroom leads to better results

A total of 64 per cent of pupils “completely” or “ slightly” agree that there is a good working environment during lessons (Wendelborg 2016a). The classroom environment has an impact on the academic performance of the class. For example, pupils in classes where there is extensive bullying achieve lower average grades than pupils in classes without similar challenges (Strøm et al. 2013).

Friendships promote learning

The majority of pupils have good friends at school. 94 per cent report that they always or often have someone to spend time with during break time (Wendelborg 2016a). A total of 90 per cent of lower secondary pupils are absolutely confident that they have at least one friend whom they can trust completely and confide in. Although this figure suggests a positive picture, almost 10 per cent of pupils do not have close friends or do not have anyone they would currently describe as friends. Girls are slightly more likely than boys not to have close friends (NOVA 2015).

Many children and young people feel that the best thing about school is being able to spend time with friends (FUG 2012). The pupils’ social needs are an important element in education. When their needs are met, it becomes easier to focus on learning and on exploiting the learning potential that lies in working together with fellow pupils (Wang and Eccles 2012). Not having friends to lean on and spend time with is a risk factor for developing mental health issues. It is not the number of friends that matters but the quality of the friendships (Holsen 2009, Kvello 2012)

Most pupils have a good relationship with their teachers

On the whole, pupils think that all or most of their teachers care about them and believe that they can do well at school. Yet 14 per cent report that only a few teachers care, and almost 3 per cent report that only one or no teachers care about them. A total of 13 per cent of pupils believe that only a few teachers are confident that they can do well at school, while almost 4 per cent believe that no or only one teacher is confident that they can do well (unpublished findings from the Pupils Survey 2015).