Beyond Aesthetics: The Power of Colour in Learning Environments


Recognising the role that mental health plays in the lives of students is important, as good mental health positively impacts on learning, creativity, concentration, and overall performance.

This Mental Health Awareness Week let’s explore the power of colour in learning spaces. It’s more than just aesthetics – the right colours can significantly impact students’ mental health and engagement in learning.

Colour Psychology: A Brush with Brilliance
Colour is a fundamental tool for creating positive and engaging learning environments. It wields a powerful influence over emotions, behaviour, and cognitive function, enhancing visual processing, reducing stress, and stimulating brain development. Through an understanding of colour psychology, we can design learning spaces that promote specific energy levels and behaviours: fostering playfulness, focus, creativity, and a sense of calmness as well as feelings of security.

Unleashing Creativity: A Vibrant Palette for Engagement
A dynamic hue such as red can stimulate energy, passion, and courage, but it can also have negative connotations such as fueling a sense of anger or danger. With its ability to provoke such strong emotions, red should be used carefully in any learning environment and implemented as an accent or feature colour ideally paired with cooler colours. Red works well in common areas such as dining rooms or breakout hubs where collaboration, conversation, and creativity are encouraged.

Magdalen College School

Finding Focus: Calming Colours for Productivity
Cooler tones such as blue have a calming effect by reducing stress and anxiety levels while promoting productivity, relaxation, and confidence making them perfect for individual study areas like libraries. Combining blue with warmer, natural tones can inspire a sense of serenity and create a secure learning environment. However, it’s best to avoid blue in social spaces due to its association with coldness.

Nonsuch High School

Green for Growth: A Natural Choice for Learning
With its strong connection to nature, green is a wonderful colour for promoting balance, a positive atmosphere and increasing productivity, making it a leading colour for use in learning environments. Scientifically proven to enhance memory and concentration, blue-based greens instil a sense of calmness and harmony owing to their low-wavelength properties. Meanwhile, yellow-tinted greens serve as motivational colours in classrooms, fostering creativity.

Latymer Upper School

Sunshine State of Mind: Colours for Positivity
Light, bright colours like yellow embody warmth, sunshine, and optimism, fostering well-being and positivity. They infuse spaces with energy, happiness and facilitate open communication, making them great for areas promoting collaboration and innovative thinking, such as group rooms, circulation routes, and social spaces.

Linton Park School

Cultural Diversity: Fostering a Sense of Belonging
Recognising that colour preferences vary across cultures and individuals is crucial to creating inclusivity. Embracing diversity in colour selection ensures that all students feel represented and accepted, fostering a sense of belonging and supporting mental health and academic success. For instance, red may symbolise success in Chinese culture, while vibrant hues like yellow and orange may signify celebration in some African cultures. While efforts to accommodate diversity are crucial, it’s important to recognise that it’s not always possible to meet everyone’s preferences.

Colours for All Learners
Colour choices can also be tailored to students with special needs. High-contrast colour schemes can assist visually impaired students, while clear and uncluttered layouts benefit those with attention difficulties. It’s also important to be mindful of colours that might evoke aggression and frustration, for example, strong yellows should be avoided in SEND environments.

Treetops Free School - Sensory RoomTreetops Free School

The Final Brushstroke
The colours that are selected for learning spaces have a significant impact on students’ mental well-being. According to research in colour psychology, specific hues can evoke emotional and cognitive responses and affect students’ mood, focus, and overall learning experience. At Pinnacle, we embrace the principles of colour psychology to create educational environments that foster healthy minds, inspire motivation, and cultivate a culture of well-being for all students.