Saturday, 6 June 2009

Student conversations about school design

Earlier this week I spent time with secondary students in Blackburn talking about school design. They had spent some weeks identifying and photographing areas they liked and disliked in their current schools. They had also been having some real conversations exploring and confirming what they really considered to be important features of a new school build.

No surprise to me, but certainly to some of their staff, was the sophistication of their thinking, including the importance of internal transparency, of natural daylight and external views, appropriate and varied furniture, different learning spaces, colour, trees and plants, (inside and out), water features (inside and out), interesting and varied external spaces and so on.

They also had the variety this week to work with a variety of architects, (including landscape architects) to start to design their results of their student conversations. Some amazing and realistic ideas came forward. Although the photograph below looks fairly indecipherable, the thinking and design to those present and who were part of the conversation regarding the different elements was excellent.


Traditionally we have talked about student voice - this implies that adults listen and go away and maybe do something with what they have heard..... or maybe not.

I think we should really be rethinking this and referring to student conversations. If we do this, then that really does put the pressure on for these types of engagements to be an ongoing professional dialogue that results in genuine impact on schemes, on learning or what ever is being discussed. It surely is the only way forward!


7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Any news on the Knowsly Centres for Learning? Some have already opened, haven't they? If so, it would be interesting to find out how they are doing.

Gareth Long said...

I actually don't know is the honest answer. I have not heard and been too busy to visit.

However, it is very easy to attempt to judge very early on. The success of any move into new learning environments is directly linked to the quality of the change management programme undertaken over the preceeding years prior to the move.

Even then, there is of course, the fine tuning that continues as learners and staff familiarise themselves with the new environments, systemsetc

I wish them the best.

G

Anonymous said...

The head has gone off on sick leave. It is a difficult place to teach in. The beautiful new environment, and it is a fantastic building to be in, appears to have had little effect on the behaviour and attitude of the pupils.

Gareth Long said...

Thanks for the update. I refer to the importance of any change management programme prior to entering new facilities - it has to be extensive - it really should take as long as the whole design and build programme.

But yes, they are just fab buildings.

G

Anonymous said...

Is that anonymous comment about just one of the new schools in Knowsley or all of them?

Gareth Long said...

Just one ...

Anonymous said...

....yes, fab buildings!