This new publication, from Architecture & Design Scotland (A&DS) and Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), brings together lessons learned from the Inspiring Learning Spaces (ILS) initiative for those in the learning and estates community across Scotland. Whether you are in a position to make a large change or a small one, it invites you to pause for a moment and imagine new and innovative ways of learning.
Teaching and learning in Scotland is in the midst of transformation. The Curriculum for Excellence puts the learner at the centre, a dynamic participant in how learning happens. Schools are engaging in new learning situations which have proven benefits for equipping the adults of tomorrow.
In this context, learning spaces are being reimagined. The conventional classroom, which has changed little in 100 years, is transforming into a flexible space which enables individual, collaborative and interdisciplinary working and gives the learner more choice in how they learn.
High Impact Interventions
In August 2014, the Scottish Government made £5million available to encourage local authorities to imagine teaching and learning spaces differently. Inspiring Learning Spaces, administered by the Scottish Futures Trust, did not set down a list of criteria. Applicants were encouraged to think creatively, to find low-cost interventions which made high impacts.
ILS encouraged local authorities to look at spaces within school buildings which could be transformed: an old Home Economics lab became a state-of-the-art restaurant kitchen, a storeroom became a skills academy for the construction industry. Some local authorities used the funding to trial new kinds of learning space to better inform forthcoming new-build schools. Innovative partnerships were formed with Further Education colleges, local businesses and a Science Centre.
In collaboration with SFT, Architecture & Design Scotland captured learning on the early impacts and benefits of the ILS projects based on interviews with 20 project leads. The majority of the projects fell into three broad categories: flexible learning spaces in which to explore new learning styles; vocational training facilities; and digital and virtual classrooms which expand the use of technology in learning.
The projects were very different in size and scale, ambition and intended educational outcomes, and, as you’d expect in an innovation initiative, some aspects were more successful than others. From those projects able to report early results, there were both expected and unexpected benefits. In some cases, the ILS proved transformative for pupils, teachers, and the wider school community.
Find 20 short case studies of Inspiring Learning Spaces here.
Image: © Martin Shields