Thursday, 22 July 2010

Great new schools...

I was lucky enough to visit the new Highbury Grove School in Islington this week - a stunning building on a very compact site. The building reflects so many 'lessons learnt' in terms of design and school organisation. It is light and airy, with great circulation space and massive transparency. There are no hidden corners and learning in every classroom is visible and celebrated throughout... it is a fabulous building.
A tremendous use of glass, including in the stair wells ensure sight lines, wide internal stairs prevent bottle necks, well spaced out lockers prevent congestion, toilets are not 'bullying centres and every square inch of the limited external space is maximised...
It is not a particularly 'transformational' space, compared with some, no open flexible areas etc - learning does appear to be all done in rooms of varying sizes, but the effect of the environment has had a dramatic and positive effect on learners. That's what it's all about. This is a fab facility - it's what our learners deserve!
Touring this school for some hours yesterday, I really did feel sad for all those young people who have had formerly promised new schools taken away from them with the demise of the BSF programme. It is tragic really. BSF may have been bureaucratic, it was, we all know that, everyone would have been happy for the process to be simplified further. What it has delivered though for many, are just fabulous learning environments that were getting progressively better, that have transformed learning for thousands of young people, and will continue to do so for many years more.
Highbury Grove School was designed by BDP and built by Balfour Beatty.

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