The Schools Programme have been working with students and teachers from St Margaret’s Academy in Livingston in West Lothian, with the aim of engaging them in the design of their school grounds.
St Margaret’s Academy in Livingston is currently undergoing significant extension work and internal reconfiguration. The focus for the project was identified as external learning spaces — chosen because it was an aspect of the planned extension work that had the potential to be affected by participation and input from a group of school users.
A series of workshops were designed not only to raise the aspirations of users for the quality of their school building and grounds, but also to provide a vehicle through which Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) could be delivered by way of active learning.
Two phases of this work have taken place so far, with a third phase currently underway. An overview of the first two phases of work has been outlined below.
Between January and May 2009 a group of 12 students from S3, a science and a technical teacher, were involved in five workshops, which took place over three full, and two half-day sessions.
The workshop activities were designed to facilitate the creation of a group of successful clients who would be well equipped to communicate using design vocabulary and feel empowered to articulate their own views and opinions.
The students investigated their existing learning spaces, and other spaces outside of their everyday learning environments. Activities then offered the participants the opportunity to engage in extended discussion, and to critically reflect on the role of spaces in their learning.
The workshops provided participants with the opportunity to develop a broad range of skills, through which they felt more confident and better equipped to express their aspirations for external learning spaces and contribute to the creation of a meaningful design brief, an integral output of this project.
Each of the four capacities of CfE was achieved via active and experiential learning within the workshop sessions.
Download the St Margaret’s Academy External Spaces brief for more details.
A second phase of work was undertaken in January and February 2010. In partnership with Grounds for Learning (GfL), A+DS ran four workshops with 5 students from S4 who had been involved in the first phase of workshops.
The four half-day sessions engaged users in creating a formal presentation for the Education Executive Committee of West Lothian Council. The students revisited the previous workshops and brief, and brainstormed for potential ideas and content for their presentation. They also thought about their audience and how to tailor their presentation towards the Committee members. To support this process, A+DS and GfL staff provided a resource bank of images, documents and research to help the students find figures and quotes to use alongside their own ideas, experiences and research.
The workshops and presentation continued to exemplify how engagement in the process of school design can also enable students to fulfill their learning experiences and outcomes within the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence.
As part of their presentation, the students asked that the Education Executive Committee report back to them in a years time on how their recommendations have been put into place across schools in West Lothian.
In addition, A+DS have produced a short film – Making the Case for Outside Space — which illustrates the workshop process and shows highlights from their presentation to the Education Executive Committee. A follow up film looked at the progress after a year.