Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Newlands School Opens

It's great news that a brand new project we have been heavily involved with has received excellent press coverage recently from the latest edition of 'Architects Journal'.

Newlands School is a small secondary school for SEBD boys in Peckham.  These boys, amongst the most underprivileged students in Southwark, moved into their brand new building just last week and is a massive improvement on their previous random collection of buildings.

the-learning-crowd provided the education advice throughout the design process, working with the school, the wonderfully talented architects Sandy Wright and Stephen Smith at Wright and Wright, 4 Futures; the Local Education Partnership between the London Borough of Southwark and Balfour Beatty. 

With comments like: "You have to visit Newlands and see it for real, to fully understand just how good this building is."  and "Wright and Wright's building is... a serious piece of work" and "the sense of it's weight and spatial properties within which skillfully enable passive monitoring - there are indoor windows and vision panels everywhere - are hard to capture in print or on screen" reflect just how much care, research and effort went into this £9.25 million scheme.
Crucially the school is delighted and people are confident that the environment will make a signficant difference to the students.  This is something the-learning-crowd intend to review and evaluate with the school in a few months time.
For more photographs of the scheme please click here.
This is just one of several major schemes we are working on, all at different stages of development.
(The story is also included on the-learning-crowd website - to see that please click here

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Student voice - The School We'd Like

Spotted in The Guardian newspaper are the results of their competition where students contributed ideas as to what they would like to see in their own schools..

Primary, Secondary and Special schools entered with apparently lots of exciting ideas.  That shouldn't that surprise anyone? We all know that students are creative, innovative and can be very ambitious in their aspirations.

So pedal powered energy, graffiti wall with associated skills and business opportunities and accessible outdoor learning zones are the winners.  Some of these may not be truly innovative, but having groups of students thinking about improving their learning environments is a winning combination for all really.  

Well done to all those who entered, but especially winners: Horniman Primary School, Salendine Nook High School and Ifield Foundation Special School.

To read the full article in The Guardian, click here.

Monday, 11 March 2013

New Project - Old Signage

I really like it when the moments of the past are preserved and reflected in buildings. 

Attending a meeting about a new Free School recently, I spotted the sign shown in the photo outside a meeting room, lit up and looking ominous.  It turns out that the building used to be an old American Air-Force Base and whilst it was serving a very Third Millennium function now, the sign from decades ago was a really unusual and pretty cool reminder of it's past history.  Even better they keep it lit - it makes a difference! It's so much better than just putting up a plaque. As the school is going to specialise in Modern History, it all makes even more sense really.

I wish more schools did things like this - it's unusual and became a talking point... unlike so many strategies that are supposed to celebrate the past!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

"Daft as Matching Haircuts"

"Daft as Matching Haircuts" is one of the classic quotes emerged today from friend and colleague Professor Stephen Heppell.

A news story on the BBC website describes the new Amplify tablet launched by the Murdoch group, which will be issued with their own learning software on it as well as tools for teachers on monitoring progress and attendance.

Technology is the way forward in learning - we all know that. There is a massive increase in how much people research, learn, discuss, collaborate as a result of smart technology - you just have to be in a group of people and watch the amount of use phones, iPads etc get!  Why would anyone what to limit themselves to one limited resource rather than use the massive range already freely available on the web?

It notes that for parents they can monitor their child's progress and have online chatrooms.  This capability exists already.  I'm not sure what's new here.

Students mostly have better technology at home than in school currently, it's a common complaint. They want the same capacity or better.  Not a more limiting machine.

It is going to be a tough market for them I suggest.

To read the full BBC article click here.