When designing our new school last year, it was clear that the move from an industrial economy to a knowledge economy would have pedagogical and spatial implications that we would need to take account of in our plans. We needed to create a series of spaces, spread out over 7 floors including the roof, that provided a more individualized experience for students. Planning for the future involved thinking about a flexible design that could be easily moved around when needed to create better learning environments for our students. For us the focus has been on the needs of the learners, and giving students more voice and choice has led to them making decisions about where they will work. Giving teachers more voice and choice has led to some of the floors already having learning spaces moved around in order to make the best use of the available space.
What I have observed is this: a comfortable and relaxed space has had a positive effect on learning. We no longer have "wasted" corridor space and classrooms with doors, but have huge spaces where we can group learners by abilities, interests and needs, including quiet work spaces and "wet and messy" areas. We have provided tech support on every floor where there is a 1:1 laptop programme. We have wonderful specialist learning spaces such as an art room, a music room and a science lab. We have even provided a parent cafe.
I loved taking our new teachers around the campus last week. It made me appreciate, yet again, just how lucky I am to work in such beautifully designed learning spaces.