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BSF Thread, Inspirational Learning Spaces in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; Can any one help me? I am looking to visit a variety of new builds that have produced inspirational learning ...
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    Question Inspirational Learning Spaces

    Can any one help me? I am looking to visit a variety of new builds that have produced inspirational learning areas.
    1. science
    2. technology
    3. maths
    4. english

    I am also wanting to know of the groups experiences of all pupils being given a laptop each and how this is best managed in schools.


  2. #2

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    The most important element of an Inspirational Learning Space is the inspired teacher. In my experience flexibility of the spaces is crucial to the baseline happiness of teachers.

    At school age most academic learning takes place in the classroom. Assuming that you are not in a position to alter student teacher relationship, the standard classroom is the most important learning space to get right. However, provided the facilities allow it , you can still use alternate learning management styles by breaking down the class into smaller groups as appropriate.

    This generally means ensuring they have:
    A large squarish room 65-90m^2
    which is light and airy
    with robust natural light controls (i.e. some kind of blinds)
    noise dampening (carpets, ceiling construction)
    graduated lighting control
    robust rectangular furniture (rubberised or similar edges for noise reduction)
    Flexible power and networking.
    Space owenership. They must be able to cover the walls, and move the furniture as suites them on any given day.

    Departments should be given the opportunity to remodel their spaces. A 90m^2 room can be remodeled quite cheaply into study sapces/offices/store/ provided the building was designed for the flexibility from day one.

    The school should contain large wide corridors, and provide alcoves where students may gather. A careful balance between 'gather' and 'hide' needs to be struck.

    It should be expected that groups of students are regularly not in classrooms. Most likely they might be partaking in collaborative learning. For example, utilising practices from Drama and Media based courses to reflect and report on the area of the curriculum that the timetable has focused them on at that moment. Student cafe, outdoor areas, free classrooms the lobby and the aforementioned alcoves are spaces that suite this purpose well.

    Working like/with adults is inspiring for many students. Science labs and Design/Food Technology suites should be laid out similar to real world workshops/labs/kitchens. The traditional layouts work very well, a sit down 'chalk and talk' area at one side or end, and the workshop at the other. I would suggest that labs lend themselves to rows and workshops/kitchens to pods. I've seen labs where the teacher position is on a raised platform so they may better survey activities at the benches.

    Over the last five years I have visited many sites in various stages of disrepair/refurb/build/use. Over and over again it is clear that the two aspects of inspirational teaching/learning spaces that a school has control over are its teachers and its spaces. Both need to be of high quality and larger than life. I'm sorry that I cannot offer a site visit, but I hope some of my observations and reflections were of use to you.


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    I'd also try to arrange to see the new Academies at Knowsley which won many awards for inspitrational design (may not be to everyones taste though) or some of the new Academies at Sunderland which also won a number of awards.

    Also see work of Professor Stephen Heppell learning • ingenuity • research • policy • design • technology • delight • (+ sailing!)

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