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Research into Practice

18 Oct 2023
Design, Construction & Delivery Stage

School 360 - progressive education in a staff-friendly environment
David Baker, PhD research student, Faculty of Education, Cambridge University

School360 is an innovative learning environment for Primary-age pupils.

A new 2-form-entry Primary school was required for a tight urban site in a new housing development in Stratford, East London. The education providers, Big Education Trust, are committed to innovative approaches to education including a balanced head/heart/hand curriculum and a project-based learning (PBL) pedagogy.

The building design required a 3-story building that could support innovative learning approaches whilst still being compliant with current Government guidance and limitations.
A detailed education brief was provided to the architects, including information about specific teaching and learning activities. A layout concept for the entire building was also provided to the design team as well as detailed layouts and equipping of a Makerspace.

The exemplary building was completed on time and on budget. It is proving to be extremely popular with the residents of the new estate and has fulfilled the brief for an innovative learning environment, successfully completed within the many constraints. The presentation will include a summary of the education brief and annotated layout plans of the final building.

Post-pandemic Secondary School Design
Dr Rokhshid Ghaziani, Lecturer in Architecture and Interiors, University of Portsmouth

Schools can play a vital role in supporting children’s health and well-being and there is an increasing recognition in the role of nature (biophilic design) in schools. The prevalence of mental health problems in children throughout the UK is deeply concerning. Among those aged 6 to 16 in England, one in six had a probable mental health condition in 2021, up from one in nine in 2017 (The Health Foundation, 2022). More children and young people have suffered from mental health during the pandemic; therefore, the role of school to support their wellbeing is significant.

This role is crucial, especially for secondary schools as transition from primary to secondary school is a stressful experience for young people and could have a negative impact on their wellbeing. This issue may need even more considerations for young people from ethnically diverse groups and in deprived areas. A participatory design approach is needed to understand young people’s experiences in schools to find out how design of spaces (indoors and outdoors) could support their wellbeing.

This pilot study explored young peoples’ views (from ethnically diverse groups and low-income family background in Year 7) in a secondary school (in West Midlands, England). Views of 73 young people were collected by means of questionnaires, drawings and model making. The findings suggest how young people could be involved in a co-design process to evaluate their school design and its connection to nature. The findings also would have implications for school design practice, suggesting an initial design framework to ease school transition for young people and support their wellbeing and resilience post-pandemic. Further research in various secondary schools in the UK is suggested to test and develop this framework.

Helen Groves, Architect Director - Education Sector Lead - AtkinsRéalis
David Baker, PhD research student - Faculty of Education, Cambridge University
Rokhshid Ghaziani, Lecturer in Architecture - The University of Portsmouth



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