We all understand how much our environment impacts upon our thinking, our emotions and our ability to function. If something is wrong in our space we tend to battle on but we know change needs to happen. Learning in primary schools should be enjoyable. stimulating and collaborative and above all it should be natural. We have a solution that is beautiful, functional and cost efficient and most importantly having built several and seen the spaces in action, we know this design works. Have look at this short animation of our learning space construction process and see what you think.
Our multiple award winning buildings are versatile and people centred and the fluid use of indoor and outdoor space enable inspirational 21st century learning and teaching to happen.
We are delighted to have completed our design for The Oasis, a new centre for children and young people who need an alternative to mainstream education. Children who find themselves excluded or at risk of exclusion are often placed in ‘Pupil Referral Units’ or ‘Short Stay Schools’. After visiting several and talking to children, staff and parents we decided to try something different that would best meet the needs of such a learning community. The spatial design emphasises, creates and supports opportunities for learners to actively take responsibility for their own learning in a trustful, therapeutic environment. Lines are blurred between indoor and outdoor spaces and the free flow of people through the spaces will promote learner centred activities that will enable the development of self esteem, confidence and the skills required for inspired learning and teaching and for children and young people to develop a deep understanding of how to learn. This 21st century development is an exciting new concept that will help ensure all children have access to an education that enables them to achieve their fullest potential.
Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator.
We are passionate about engaging children, families and communities in projects that bring the community together in positive, life enriching, creative experiences. We also think we should all be outdoors at every possible opportunity so The Totem Project at George Betts Primary Academy was a brilliant opportunity to combine our interests as we enabled people to create a wonderful new community space in the grounds on the academy site. Located in an urban area in Smethwick, the academy are committed to working in partnership with families and the community and the Totem project is a wonderful example of their ethos. Download the project summary brochure to find out more.
To read to our children and to understand and engage with what is written can sometimes be taken for granted and with that in mind children of all ages from and their families have collaborated to create a story about a boy who lives in The Mystical Woodland. The story was brought to life with illustrations inspired by the children’s artwork as they interpreted the story. The book has been translated into 12 languages for the parents and children from the community to enjoy. They include Arabic, Chinese, French, Hindi, Italian, Polish, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Somali, Spanish and Urdu.
Many of the younger children involved in the Mystical Woodland book project are from non-English speaking families, and we wanted to make the book accessible to all parents and children in the school and beyond. The school holds a weekly ESL class for parents and we presented the idea to them to translate the book into their own community languages so that they can read the story with their children at home.
Some parents are in the process of learning written and spoken English, the challenge therefore was to develop their understanding of the story. Children acted out the series of events in the book working closely with the ESL co-ordinator translating unfamiliar words as we went along. The parents worked in small groups pooling their knowledge, skills and command of English to translate the story page by page. Once the translations were complete we invited their children to come and listen to the story in their own community language to see if it was understood. Parents read proudly, taking the art of storytelling to a much deeper, personal level for the children to enjoy.
You can download the story for free by visiting this link:
Our Eco Lodge project was completed on schedule with the opening event organised by children who planned a lovely creative ceremony attended by parents and the wider community. The building provides a fantastic space for outdoor learning and will be used as a centre for Forest Schools, family learning and as a multi-purpose space for the wider school community. The mix of 21st century design technology and rustic natural logs retrieved from local the forest floor combined beautifully and functionally.
“Universal Learning have exceeded all of our expectations and we’re absolutely delighted with our beautiful new building, we were also particularly impressed with the way they involved children, staff and parents in every step of the process.”
The traditional idea of an ICT suite with rows of desks and clunky PC’s is outdated and after consulting with the learning community at Hurst Hill Primary School, a more contemporary and approach to digital creative learning has unleashed the exciting potential of smart technology within a learning context. We did creative design sessions with children and staff and shaped their ideas into a deliverable design solution.
Static technology can be limiting and using smart devices provides a much more flexible approach that accommodates a wider range of learning styles. By working with the learning community and creating a learning space that responds to the needs of both the teachers and learners, we helped empower people as they endeavour to reach their fullest potential.
The new learning space was created in one week ( during a half term closure) with an immediate impact upon standards as the space encourages creativity, promotes teamwork and enables the children to share and disseminate their work efficiently . Removing the sluggish computers, bulky monitors and formal seating that amounted to an inhibitive learning environment and refreshing the space with a 21st century environment designed with the key stakeholders has been a transformative process.
The walls were transformed from a shade of pink to soft white which made the room feel larger and provides a great opportunity for displaying work, the prison like window grills were removed along with purple blinds in place of new white shutter blinds that blend into the walls. Round tables replaced large desks to encourage sharing and teamwork whilst the seating injected a splash of colour to help brighten up what was a grey space. The flexible tables can easily be moved to utilise floor space and the wall of beanbags brings comfort to those who enjoy working at a lower level. The lighting was changed, storage space was created and the iPads are stored inside a charging station based in the store cupboard freeing up valuable room space.
With wifi in school these changes allow a learner to pick up an iPad, find a seat and be using the internet or Apps within seconds of starting the lesson giving the teacher more time to focus on teaching. With a whiteboard on the wall it is easy to connect an iPad to share work, demonstrate an idea or set a task.
If your school or academy has an tired ICT Suite, don’t be embarrassed about it, see it as an opportunity and we would be delighted to help. We can consult with you and your learning community and help them create a vision for a new inspiring learning space, and then turn that vision into a reality.
Children at Shireland Hall primary are creating a sky garden to inspire outdoor learning. With space always at a premium in primary school’s the children thought about how they could use the roof as a unique additional learning space and creating an urban sanctuary will be a fantastic way to enrich the curriculum. The children started this project with a trip to a sculpture park and the organic garden to get their creative juices flowing and then have started generating ideas for their spatial design.
The Year 3 children from George Betts Primary Academy went on a research trip to look at designs and patterns in nature. They are starting work on a project to create a Little Eden at their school in Smethwick where they can grow and cultivate plants, fruits and vegetables all year round. The children will also use their experience of the visit to Lickey Hills Country Park and Martineau Gardens to start shaping their ideas for their very own sculptural installation.
Year 4 children at Kingsland Primary School have been investigating fruit and vegetables this week and where they come from whilst planting produce of their own in the Kingsland Garden. After collecting seeds, leaves and flowers from the playground the children had a closer look using a microscope and magnifying glass as well as making posters and plant diagrams.
Our recent Family Art Workshop at Hurst Hill Primary School was inspired by Diane Churchill who creates abstract paintings. Families enjoyed creating textures and exploring the use of colour. We used rollers, combs, squeegees, palette knives and anything else other than brushes to apply the paint to the canvas.
Thank you to everyone who joined us on Saturday and the exhibition will soon be on display in the school.