Putney High School has won a Gold Medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for its pioneering use of plant power to boost student health and wellness.
The school was asked to exhibit within the Discovery Zone of this year’s Chelsea Flower Show (21-26 September) after impressing The Royal Horticultural Society with its ground-breaking research into how introducing nature into the classroom can improve mental and emotional wellbeing and productivity.
Located in a congested part of southwest London, Putney High School embarked on a project to introduce more greenery into its teaching settings. A nine-month study was commissioned into the impact of Biophilic Design within three of its sixth form classrooms. Biophilic Design is the increase in occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, space and place conditions.
Nature was introduced into the classrooms in the form of indoor plants and indirect nature in the form of woodland photo murals. The classrooms were then analysed in comparison with a third un-changed classroom. The study found greater humidity and 10% improved air-quality within the changed classrooms and a significant improvement in consistency of comfort and ‘freshness’ of the classrooms. A survey also revealed that 78 per cent of students felt healthier, 68 per cent liked the murals, and 62 per cent liked having plants in the classroom.
Putney identified the optimum plants to introduce for their ability to remove chemical vapours, ease of growth and maintenance, resistance to insect infestation, and ability to increase humidity. Top performers included the moth orchid, spider plant, snake plant, heart-leaf philodendron, anthurium, peace lily, dragon tree, and areca palm.
Biophilic Design is now spreading into other areas of the school, including the libraries, with the Junior School Reception classrooms the latest to undergo a green transformation.
Putney High School has shown how a few simple, inexpensive, and sustainable changes can have a significant restorative impact on student wellbeing and the ability to learn; sister schools across the GDST family will definitely be following their lead.
Click here to read the full report on Putney’s Biophilic Classroom study.