Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Who needs chairs??

Interesting story from Seminole County in the USA about a classroom which has totally abandoned chairs for pupil working, rather adopting yoga balls instead.

The teacher is certain that the effort needed to keep upright, stimulates just enough of the brain to keep them more alert.  She reports improved engagement and attainment levels since adopting yoga balls.

This is not new however. Many people have heard me talk for years about having good quality chairs that allow the body the move, flex and stretch out.  That's why I like the 'Hokki' stool and 'Pantoswing' chair from VS - they are specifically designed to allow the body to move naturally.

Many people will not like the idea of yoga balls - but the concept that is highlights is very important! Young children are not designed to sit still for hours at an end and diet we still provide some shocking furniture in our schools that hinder good learning more than help.  How can that me right?

One of my key issues that it really does limit flexibility - they can't stack and will just take up so much space if the teacher wants to reconfigure the room.

To read the full story click here

Friday, 19 September 2014

More storage in primary school halls

 I get increasingly depressed as I visit primary schools,  that all seem to have totally inadequate storage in their main halls.   These halls usually have to be multi functional spaces serving as dining halls, assembly halls, PE space as well as concert / performance halls with full adult audiences.

As a minimum there should be sufficient storage for all the following to be totally put away out of sight:  
  • dining tables and associated paraphernalia such as recycling trollies
  • demountable stage and sound / AV system
  • PE equipment
  • Adult chairs for a full concert performance from parents
  • Community store
Any of the above left out all the time becomes a health and safety hazard for PE, dance and drama lessons, restricts space, looks really messy and reduces the flexibility that should be available.

There is NEVER enough space allowed in school design guidelines - in designing new hall spaces all schools should demand more than  recommended guidelines and also demand that architects model how the storage will actually cope with the amount of 'stuff' that schools have to have to be able to function.  Current practice is not good enough!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

New FREE edition of Learning Spaces Magazine

We are delighted that the new edition of the online "Learning Spaces" magazine is now out - our third edition in a year.  This edition has a definite international theme and has several aticles from around the world as well as the UK.

the-learning-crowd has now edited three of these and received some great feedback.  Please do click on the link below for your free trial edition.

For more införmation, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Daylight.. or not

I am still amazed and incredibly depressed to see schools blocking up large windows to provide additional display space.  The other side of this window is a classroom that is so dark that it resembles a cave - with a total explosion of display - some quite old and fading.  The benefit that this borrowed light into the classroom would bring  has been totally lost.

We all know that light and daylight especially is really important for young people and their learning - and that the latest research shows that young pupils like creative attractive display but not too much of it - rather zoned, organised and neat.

To increase acres of more display at the loss of additional natural light is a surely a tragedy.

Tottenham UTC nearing completion..

View from the main reception

It's been great watching the new Tottenham UTC nearing completion - a recent tour saw flooring being put down and infrastructure installations nearing completion.  I am pleased to have been involved throughout this project as Chair of the Design User Group and to see it nearing completion is a good feeling.

This UTC is being built inside an office block - whilst creating  range of significant limitations it has also ensured that learning spaces are large, (very large in some cases), light and airy allowing a wide range of innovative teaching and learning styles. The fab architects are 'Surface to Air' and contractors: Kier.

Sponsored by the Middlesex University Engineering Dept and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, its specialism is 'Technology and Science for Sport, Health and Engineering.    Other sponsors include; Festo, National Instruments, Fusion Lifestyle, Mindsets UK and the Tottenham Hotspure Foundation.

The Tottenham UTC will give students a grounding in the generic science skills required in industry, especially reflecting the rise of digital technology. Some of the science education will be delivered through the prisms of sport and health, ensuring students have the grounding required to work in associated fields such as Sports Science and Health Technologies.

For more information click here:

View of the Principal's Office                                          
 The Nexus
Student Enterprise Base

Friday, 9 May 2014

Clueless Hangers

I recently visited a brand new set of classrooms - the buildings are fab and the Head has really been robust about what he wants and, if not certain, not installed things, rather than putting in the wrong stuff.

As we chatted he noted that there were a couple of things that he overlooked - the devil is in the detail as they say!  Coat hooks were to be put in the classrooms - no problem … or so he thought.

Thirty coat hooks duly arrived from an established educational supplier -  I will not shame them here. Who ever did it has clearly never visited a school or done any research!  The hooks are SO close together that they are almost useless.  Imagine thirty students trying to put coats, hats, scarves, PE bags, other bags, etc all on these.

The other thing, although not visible in this photograph, is that they are so high up on the wall, my shoulder height, that half the pupils can't reach them!  It is barking mad!

It is rare to see a Headteacher lost for words (I should know) but he and the staff just were speechless .. or ...just too polite to say anything to me!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Tottenham UTC - an innovative and exciting project

Tottenham UTC has been all over the media recently with the call by the UK Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, encouraging football clubs to be more involved with education.  Tottenham are one of the clubs that seized the initiative and sponsored one early on.

Several members of the-learning-crowd are directly involved with the development of this innovative and exciting project. When full it will be the largest UTC in the country with 924 students.  Opening in September 2014, progress in fitting out the building is well underway.  All the spaces in the UTC are innovative, exciting, large - and dedicated to learning - no matter where the students are.  There will be great interest to see it working next year.

The main sponsors are Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and Middlesex University, supported by several significant business partners: Festo, National Instruments, Fusion Leisure and Mindsets.

Despite the obvious sporting link, the focus of the UTC is the Technology and Science for Sport, Health and Engineering.

If opens in September 2014,

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Ollie Bray: Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning

Inline image 1

Ollie Bray Senior Associate of the-learning-crowd has realised his latest eBook (in association with Microsoft UK). This time he tackles How 1:1 Computing might be used to Unlock Learning. 

As with his other books in the series (which include Playful Learning: computer games in educationExciting Learning: using technology to improve education and BYOD: a practical guide to get you thinking) Ollie continues to focus on good learning and teaching rather than the technology itself.

The book is a free download (available here) and has been launched at the start of BETT Week 2014. Ollie along with Gareth Long (Director of t-lc) and Hannah Jones (Senior Associate of the t-l-c) will also be speaking at BETT 2014 on Professor Stephen Heppell's stand on Big Data and its place in education at a system, local and personal level.