How school lighting affects pupil performance

Discover how school lighting can have a positive impact on pupil attainment and wellbeing. And, how LED lighting can reduce costs and emissions.

Published: February 24, 2017


Numerous studies have detailed how school lighting can have a positive impact on pupil performance.

But, many schools get put off from updating their old fluorescent bulbs through fears over costs and potential disruption.

Here, we’ll take a quick look at the effects lighting can have on learning, and review the types of equipment you need to create the optimal educational environment.

School lighting can enhance the learning process

These are the results of just a few of the research initiatives that have looked into the relationship between school lighting and pupil performance:


A study from the University of Georgia found that pupils in brightly-lit classrooms received higher grades overall than pupils based in dimly-lit classrooms.

Researchers believe this comes down to how light is related to the brain’s ability to focus and soak up information. Extended exposure to poor lighting can make pupils slower at absorbing new information in the classroom.


Lighting can also have a significant effect on pupils’ ability to concentrate and engage in class.

A leading study found that fluorescent lighting in particular contributed to increased rates of ‘off-task’ behaviour, such as daydreaming, talking to others and fiddling with objects. Fluorescent lighting was also found to increase instances of hyperactivity among pupils.

Comparatively, pupils in classrooms with more natural lighting were less likely to become distracted.


Insufficiently-lit classrooms can even have an effect on pupils’ psychological health, which in turn impacts their ability to study effectively.

The University of Georgia study found that prolonged periods of time spent in dimly-lit classrooms would have a negative impact on mood. Conversely, bright yet natural light has been proven to have the opposite effect, and has even been used to alleviate depression.

What lighting equipment should schools use?

The type of lighting best-suited to improving pupil productivity is natural and soft, yet bright enough to see easily. This – coupled with cost and energy-related benefits – makes LED lighting the ideal choice for schools.

Benefits of LED lighting

You can expect significant cost and energy savings with LED lighting.

Traditional forms of lighting usually comprise more than half of school electricity bills. Switching to LEDs makes your school lighting around 50 – 90% more energy efficient overall. LEDs also tend to be brighter than traditional bulbs, so many schools actually reduce the number of lights used to make further savings.

For one Oxfordshire school partnering with Utility Rentals, this added up to annual savings of over £8.5k on energy and £4k on maintenance.

Lighting is a crucial but often overlooked factor when it comes to raising student attainment and balancing the school budget. Utility Rentals can advise you on the LED lighting solution that’s right for your school, and provide a risk-free operational lease, with no upfront costs, and repayments covered by the energy saved.


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