Putney High School win gold medal in Chelsea Flower Show

Putney High School GDST was awarded a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show for their biophilic classroom design last week.

The biophilic classroom research study, which was designed by architect Clare Bowman and began three to four years ago, aims to bring nature into the classroom setting in order to improve both students’ wellbeing and their ability to learn through multiple plants and imagery of nature.

Feedback from staff and students has been very positive, with 78% of students stating they felt healthier, loved being in the classrooms, and felt their concentration in lessons improved.

Suzie Longstaff, headmistress at Putney High School, said: “I am delighted and thrilled. 

“Several years of hard work has gone into this, and we are just absolutely thrilled it has paid off.” 

“DELIGHTED AND THRILLED”: Headmistress Suzie Longstaff with the gold medal. Image credit: Putney High School GDST

The project has improved the wellbeing of students across a variety of areas, including clarity of thought, confidence, optimism and problem solving, with air quality improving 10% overnight, and humidity improving 8%.  

Longstaff said: “With the pandemic, wellbeing is the most important area for us to focus on. 

“The plants have improved the community, and the school is full of eco warriors who want the world to be a better place.

“Parents want their children to grow up in a safe and supportive world, and we want parents to know that schools care.”

WINNING PERFORMANCE: The stand at the Chelsea Flower Show. Image credit: Putney High School GDST

The project is a part of the school’s ‘Breathe’ Campaign, and began with 19 plants, but has grown to over 300, with a huge demand for more.

Longstaff said: “It has really struck a chord which even I did not anticipate. 

“We have spoken to over 2,000 people this week and shared our research, and teachers and parents have been asking how they can roll it out. 

“We have shared our research and it is flourishing”. 

GREAT REACTIONS: Students have responded positively to the plants in the classroom. Image credit: Putney High School GDST

The school’s implementation of the project was done on a budget, with all plants coming from The Palm Centre, Richmond.

Longstaff said: “You absolutely can do it on a budget, but what you need is time and committed people. 

“The whole community needs to be on board.”

The top performing plants include the moth orchid, spider plant, snake plant, heart leaf philodendron, anthurium, peace lily, dragon tree and areca palm. 

Featured image credit: Putney High School GDST

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