The Scottish Government’s Curriculum for Excellence brings a holistic approach to more effective learning and teaching. They want to ensure school learning environments are places people and communities can enjoy using and ‘which are well designed, maintained, managed and which encourage continuous engagement with learning’. (Extracts: ‘Core facts overview, Building Better Schools: Investing in Scotland’s Future’ November 2017)
Scotland’s young people need to be confident, articulate and creative in their learning, developing academic, vocational and workplace skills. The drive is to ensure that both learners and teachers think in new and imaginative ways about their learning environment and the contribution it can make to effective learning taking place.
To ensure that schools are prepared for the new innovative Curriculum for Excellence, a national review of the existing school estate has taken place. Part of this review has focused on the appropriateness and suitability of learning spaces as well as furniture and equipment within it. This is to ensure that it is fit for purpose when delivering the learning and teaching, leisure and social activities and the health and well-being of all users.
Many schools are excited about this focus and in collaboration with pupils and staff have actively explored the potential opportunities and benefits. One example is the Mi:SPACE project carried out by Midlothian Council as part of the Inspiring Learning Spaces initiative which explored two aspects of suitability:
- Changing classrooms based on learner engagement as a learning exercise, supported by investment in furniture, fittings and equipment (FF&E)
- Using classrooms as a setting to support project-based learning enabled by props, scenes and problems
A common issue to emerge from the Mi:SPACE project related to the appropriateness of FF&E, the processes for selecting new resources and exploring whether there was any guidance for its use. They also explored repurposing existing resources and using the knowledge gained to seek specific routes to procurement, design and support and create learning spaces that supported and enhanced effective learning.
The Learning Crowd, on behalf of Architecture & Design Scotland and Scottish Futures Trust, have explored the Mi:SPACE project in detail and documented learning from this to create a practical guide to furnishing and equipping spaces and settings to deliver environments that promote learning, which is available to download here.
Developing on from this, Architecture & Design Scotland is currently working on a more comprehensive User Guide to Learning Environments. The guide will aim to review the approach to co-designing spaces for active and engaged learning & teaching with pupils and teaching staff, investigating repurposing of existing spaces and newbuild. It will investigate various learning space types with a particular focus on primary schools and high schools, the specification of FF&E and how it can be adapted to suit the requirements of various teaching typologies throughout a typical day. If you would be interested to hear more about this publication, please click here to sign up to a mailing list.