chapter  1
Introduction
School design matters?
WithHarry Daniels, Andrew Stables, Hau Ming Tse, Sarah Cox

The project Design Matters? investigates the relationships between design, practice and experience of secondary schools built in England in the early 2000s under the Building Schools for the Future initiative and the Academies Programme. A central issue in the Design Matters? project was that of the relationship between the school context and perceptions and actions of the individuals who study and teach within it. The field abounds with descriptors such as ‘sociocultural psychology’, ‘cultural historical activity theory’, each of which has been defined with great care. In the words of the Oxford English Dictionary, context is ‘the connected whole that gives coherence to its parts’, a definition which has strong affinities to the Latin term ‘contextere’, or to weave together. Design Matters? was a unique multi-disciplinary collaboration between schools, architects, engineers, educationalists and policymakers.