A collection of Provocation Papers commissioned as part of the Croydon BSF Programme
A collection of Provocation Papers commissioned as part of the Croydon BSF Programme
The Transforming Croydon Schools Team would like to
thank all the authors who contributed to this collection of
provocation papers for their time, thoughts and energy.
Your collective insights will contribute to the lives of all
children and young people for whom we are striving to
Our thanks go to the British Council for School
Environments and Ty Goddard for their continual support.
This publications would not have been possible without
the attentive eye of Frances Roberson and the design flair
of Ella Britton; our thanks to you both.
Finally, we would like to thank all of you who read this
publication for taking time out of your busy work lives
to engage with the Broadening Horizons Programme and
stretch your thinking about what is possible.
TCS Service Transformation Coordinator Themes Explained
‘Building Schools for the Future’ (BSF) is an ambitious This programme will offer participants a significant What makes a good school?
programme which aims to produce far reaching chance to develop their thinking about the future of ? This is our overarching question with all stakeholders. In our exploration with many
change. It offers local authorities and schools in schools and learning. The programme will enable people we expect to profile the characteristics of what learners, parents teachers and
England a once-in-a-generation opportunity to participants to widen their networks, drawing on others all think makes a good school. Each of the themes below is an area of research
transform educational provision and to significantly the leading thinkers from the sectors of education, and potential profiling and represents considerations to people and process change.
improve educational outcomes and life chances of design, leadership, business and technology. The
children, young people and families. programme has been designed to stimulate thinking; Learning Experience
challenge expectations; offer practical examples The TCS team has been considering how the learning experience might change to
The capital investment is intended to act as a catalyst of implementation and generate shared points of best meet the needs of children and young people in the 21st Century. This includes
for change, but is not itself the change. Through reference for leading a journey of transformation. reflections on personalised, collaborative, project based, enquiry based and skills based
the investment, schools will be able to make the learning to name but a few.
organisational and cultural changes needed and What follows is a collection of papers written to
provide 21st century facilities for new, and tried stimulate thinking and provoke the reader as part of Teaching Experience
and tested methods of learning and teaching. This this developmental programme. The TCS team has been examining how pedagogy and the teaching profession has
will enable every young person to unlock their skills changed in recent years. This has involved looking at new models of leadership; new
and talents, giving them the opportunity to be fully The views contained in this publication are those of roles for teachers in the classroom, as well as across the school; and collaborative
engaged in meaningful learning and to achieve their the authors and do not represent the views of either practice.
best, regardless of background. Young people will London Borough. They are provided as part of a
have the knowledge, capability and values required to transformation journey to encourage deep thinking Social Experience
become successful participants in, and contributors about education and learning ahead of design We have asked young people in particular about their social experience in school.
to, 21st century society and the global economy. considerations. Consider your horizons broadened. We have questioned the role of informal learning and the power of developing social,
emotional aspects of learning.
The Transforming Croydon Schools team is dedicated
to delivering a step change in service provision Dining Experience
through capital investment programmes such as Schools have number of conventions that have continued pervasively into the 21st
BSF. Each school has established their own School Century, one of these is the dining experience young people have. We are questioning
Transformation Team, representing the views of a wide the validity, particularly in the context of Every Child Matter, of regimented, whole school
range of stakeholders and providing a communication lunchtimes.
route to each member’s respective stakeholder group.
It is essential that this group is given opportunity to Professional Working
challenge and debate current and future thinking about As a team we recognise that on other large scale capital programmes the spaces that
schools and learning, as well as looking beyond the adults often use (staff room, offices, meeting spaces) are poorly considered. We have
school for inspiration. begun to explore the nature of working spaces for adults in schools and in particular how
space might support new ways of working, especially collaborative work.
To this end we are committed to creating a programme
of activity that will provide participants with the Extended Learning
opportunity to expand their experience of: we have give considerable thought to how a school might offer a wider range of learning
services, both during school hours and also beyond the school day. As a resource, a
• Inspirational People and Inspirational Places school as immense potential for acting as a hub for both community learning and for
• New ways of working engaging local young people.
• Alternatives approaches to school organisation
• New models of leadership Accelerating Progress
• Innovative use of ICT Our schools talk extensively about the challenges associated with assessment, both
• Global challenges facing educationalists formatively in respect to the changing frequency and scale of examinations and also
• 21st Century Learning Strategies formatively with regards to assessment for learning. We have already begun to test ideas
• Best practice examples from BSF projects associated with peer mentoring and coaching.
• Next generation learning spaces
• Lateral thinking Relationships and Partnerships
• Creative problem solving we are working more cooperatively as a result of the multi-disciplinary teams we
• Large scale capital investment programmes e.g. BSF have formed to transform our schools. Some of these relationships are formal and
have governance changes connected to them. Others capitalise on common areas of
development and relative strengths of schools.
Paper 1: Tim Rudd
Paper 2: Sean McDougall
Paper 3: Prakash Nair
Paper 4: jellyellie
Paper 5: Neil Hutchinson
Paper 6: Tom Weaver
Paper 7: Moray Watson
appendix and bibliography pp xxx Paper 8: Darren Atkinson
Paper one / Modelling Transformation: Co-design as Pedagogy, Embedding Learner Voice through BSF
Co-design as Pedagogy,
Embedding Learner Voice
through BSF ?
Tim Rudd, Futurelab
“Creativity involves breaking out expectations and practices are often discounted or
disregarded as they challenge the existing social
of established patterns in order to dynamics and practice existing within the field of
look at things in a different way.” education (Bourdieu 1991;1992;1998). The majority
Edward De Bono. of stakeholders involved in BSF are touched by
this history and practice and there is a reticence
There is much talk of transformation within the context to debating the very nature and purpose of such a
of BSF. But what exactly is meant by transformation? politicised and entrenched system, without viable
We hear the word transformation bandied around in evidence underpinning any such change. This is why
education, with little debate as to what it means and currently, the term transformation is conflated with
how it might be applied in order to change the form, change and most emphasis is placed on the aesthetics
function and practice of education in the 21st century. of buildings, the incorporation of new technologies and
In the context of BSF, surely we must be clear what it relatively minor differences such new spaces might
means and what the implications are in order to design have over their predecessors.
and create learning spaces capable of supporting the
delivery of any such vision of a transformed future. Unfortunately, such surface changes do little to
Without this, there will remain a big question mark support fundamental changes in practice and are
as to whether the BSF programme will be harnessed certainly not transformational. In order to move toward
as a vehicle to deliver transformation, as the rhetoric transformation, we must therefore look to mobilising
suggests. the existing evidence, policies and initiatives that
exist within the current system, which are more
One of the biggest challenges faced by schools and transformative in nature and will enable us to bring
authorities is the seemingly simultaneous need to about more radical change.
design and deliver learning spaces for a transformed
future whilst also delivering for existing system “We can’t solve problems by using
requirements. Current standards and metrics for
assessing how well schools, pupils and teachers the same kind of thinking we used
have performed are open and public, and defined when we created them.”
by set criteria, subjects, approaches and methods Albert Einstein
of assessment, which can and do restrict teaching
practice to ‘broadcast’ or ‘transmission’ models. This
presents real and objective (as well as subjective and So what is transformation and what
perceived) barriers to transformative thinking and
practice in the context of BSF.
is the need to transform?
Does the predominant transmission mode of education
This leaves us with some challenging questions.
really offer the most memorable, challenging and
Firstly, how can we deliver transformational learning
ultimately the most valid and appropriate set of
spaces and related practices when the formal and
learning experiences to prepare learners for life in the
official requirements demand to a large degree that
21st century? Laurillard (2008), in her inaugural lecture
we perpetuate the status quo? Secondly, how can
at the London Knowledge Lab, helpfully mapped
we offer a vision of transformative future when there
out some, although far from all, of the key learning
is little clarity or agreement over what it means?
theories and practice to emerge over the last 120
Thirdly, how can we even begin to perceive a radically
years (including the work of; Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky,
transformed future when there is so much history and
Bruner, Freire, Pask, Winograd, Papert, Resnick, Seely
related institutionalised notions about what schools are
Brown, Marton, Säljö, Biggs, Lave). As Laurillard points
and do? In some respect, it may be this third question
out, whilst these vary considerably in approach and
that provides the biggest barrier.
specific aims, they all share one core and common
theme, which is that the learner is seen as an active
It is argued, especially when considering such an
agent in the learning process.
established system such as state education, that
every thought and word is dialogic (Bhaktin, [pub].
Whether the conception of learning promotes inquiry-
1981). That is ideas that significantly challenge existing
based learning, constructivism, social constructivism,
Paper one / Modelling Transformation: Co-design as Pedagogy, Embedding Learner Voice through BSF
How often are we This, it was argued would people to exploit new digital technologies to create,
lead to broader and more edit, share and store information - to collaborate with
faced with the differentiated provision others, to communicate through various media with
offering greater choices geographically dispersed others, to create our own
paradoxical claims around what to learn, how networks, interest groups, friendships and affiliations
that on the one hand to learn, when to learn and for learning in ways most of us could previously not
so forth. The other central imagine. Yet the way people learn inside schools is
educational standards aspect of personalisation, vastly different, rigid, and some would argue the
are improving as was to increase the pre-dominant one way broadcast model is outdated
consumers, or pupils, voice and outmoded, echoing some of the earlier claims that
measured by existing in education, providing education has to transform in order to have relevance
standards... whilst them with appropriate in today’s society.
mechanisms to negotiate
simultaneously personalised learning How often are we faced with the paradoxical claims
hearing of disaffection, pathways and to have a that on the one hand educational standards are
greater say over the form improving as measured by existing standards and
alienation, poor literacy and function of their school measures situation, whilst simultaneously hearing of
levels and the claims experience. disaffection, alienation, poor literacy levels and the
claims that graduates often do not have the skills
that graduates often While there are examples of needed in business, entrepreneurship, or in life more
good practice, we have not generally? While these headlines all have to be treated
do not have the skills witnessed the overhaul and with some caution, we also need to consider whether
needed in business, transformation intended we are measuring the right skills and competencies
and heralded initially. and moreover, whether we are teaching the right
entrepreneurship, or in This is partly because skills and processes, in a manner that empowers and
life more generally? there were few significant support learners to develop responsibility and a sense
changes in policy to enable of ownership over what they do and hence develop
mediated learning, discovery learning, problem- through the lens of the predominant orthodoxy and considerable shifts in broader learning skills in the process.
based learning, reflective practice, meta-cognition, thus being diluted and mediated by existing practice, practice and the related inability to significantly change
experiential learning, learner-oriented approaches or processes and thinking as ‘bolt on’ concepts and ‘tick the participatory mechanisms and engagement “The illiterate of the 21st century
practices to enable pupils to have a real voice. The
situated learning, it appears that our education system box’ exercises rather than as transformational levers,
overarching institutional logic provided a significant
will not be those who cannot read
does not systematically strive to create the ideal there is still much we can learn and operationalise to
conditions for these sorts of learning experiences. bring about significant changes within the system. real and perceptual barrier resulting in calls for greater and write, but those who cannot
Leading thinkers and researchers offer theories and choice and voice being limited to little more than learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
evidence to support a different model of education, yet Let us consider both personalisation and Every Child enhanced options and preferences within the existing Alvin Toffler
the deeply politicised nature of the education system Matters as supposedly core initiatives that, when systems framework.
means much of this is ignored in favour of a technicist conceived, were claimed to be concepts to help Drawing from the field of community participation,
approach to content delivery and measurement that transform the learning landscape. However, BSF can and does provide a vehicle to lever there is a long and established set of guidance that
acts as a proxy for assessing educational quality. more significant changes in personalised practice suggests that if a community is to be involved and
Personalisation, despite its subsequent patchy but only if pupils are involved, or rather meaningfully active, people need to feel they can make a difference.
We must take time to challenge our established and translation and ongoing re-interpretation, was engaged in the decision making and design processes. They need to have ownership over the agendas and
institutionalised perceptions of school and learning heralded as a concept to transform education. The prevailing logic is of top down initiative setting issues and have the mechanisms available to them
experiences in order to consider what a transformed Initial Government papers introducing the concept, with several layers of hierarchy mediating and shaping that allow them to get their ideas, opinions and
learning space might look like, how it might be especially those by David Miliband (1984), drew on practice before it impacts on the pupils. Yet, we are thoughts across with a plausible expectation that it will
resourced, what the relationships and approaches to previous theses (Piore and Sabel 1984 & 1985) around seeing the notion of such top-down, hierarchical and have an impact and help inform decisions made. In the
learning and teaching would be like if we designed changing patterns of consumption and production set approaches being challenged elsewhere in society context of BSF we are not seeing much beyond pupil
spaces around these broader theories of learning and related wider changes in society. Drawing on and in business, and increasingly the need to engage community rubber stamping decisions already made
with the learner as active and central in the learning this analogy, the claim was made that education the communities in the decision making processes by others, or choosing from pre-determined options.
process. It is worth taking the time to think through had to adapt to be relevant to changes in modern is seen as an essential aspect of those communities
the varied or preferred educational theories and society, allowing for greater diversity and choice for taking ownership and responsibility for ensuring fruitful To realise the enormity and the expectations of
philosophies, identify the key processes involved in the the consumer, in this case, the pupil. The argument outcomes. Yet seldom are we seeing the same logic education deeply rooted in our culture, we have only to
learning experience and consider how such functions went that we had gone beyond a Fordist model of applied meaningfully to the pupil communities within think of the Every Child Matters (ECM) agenda, which
might require different forms in terms of spatial design. production with Taylorist principles of standardisation schools. again publicly seeks to join up and radically reform
and breaking production processes down into clearly children’s services. Whilst few could argue with the
The above theories of course, represent just a few of defined, time bound tasks, and had moved into a As well as the various educational theories, the overall intentions of such an agenda, and the great
the major theoretical and practical approaches that post modern era where products were diversified, calls to transform education through personalising work and positive steps that has been undertaken
put the learner as central to the learning experience. customised and tailored to the demands and needs of learners’ experiences by giving them greater choice to ensure young people’s lives are safer and more
However, there are clear aspects of recent policy the consumer. and voice, and the wider theories that highlight the rewarding, there must remain doubts as to the extent
that can also be mobilised in order to establish a changing nature of society (all highlighted above) we to which it will transform pupils’ experiences in
transformed educational vision. Whilst somewhere in The Government took this analogy and applied it to also have to consider the role and impact new and schools.
the process of interpretation from concept to delivery, education, suggesting that greater diversity should be emerging technologies will have on society and the
these concepts and initiatives are being translated achieved through ‘producers’ listening to ‘consumers’. ways in which we learn. There are now more ways for
Paper one / Modelling Transformation: Co-design as Pedagogy, Embedding Learner Voice through BSF
To all intents and purposes, Every Child Matters and convinced by the need to change and transform agendas into which they have had little or no input, about what they feel the key issues around education
remains a top down policy initiative, interpreted learning experiences and practices. By placing and indeed, may have little or no interest, renders such are. Unfortunately, pupils are seldom involved in any
through the existing structures, systems and learners at the heart of a co-design process, it would activities relatively meaningless. If a project is to be aspect of the redesign process, and where they are,
institutions that will no doubt continue to mediate offer place them as central in a learning process truly empowering, and pupils are to gain ownership it tends to be little more than a ‘tick box’ exercise.
its transformational potential. Every Child Matters that engages them in real, active and participatory and take responsibility, then they have to be involved Ultimately, the hierarchies, processes and structures
states that every child, regardless of background or activities that can lead to tangible changes. It offers in every step of the process, from initial agenda currently in place will continue to remain unchallenged,
circumstance, should have the support they need the opportunity for them to be exposed to and develop setting, developing initial conceptual ideas, problem mediating any opportunities for transformation,
to: be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a a whole range of new skills, competencies and abilities solving and creative thinking and planning, all the way and resulting in new old schools, with such a great
positive contribution, achieve economic wellbeing, process. through to design and delivery. opportunity being missed.
and that these should be at the heart of everything a
school does. However, unless greater control is given The programme also offers the potential for pupils to It is of course, not an easy task and will require
to pupils to engage in truly participatory processes, work alongside and learn with and from their peers, rethinking approaches and established ways of doing
they will be subject to policies and practices put in staff, other stakeholders and a whole range of other things. It will require new ways of decision making
place by others rather than become active agents in professionals involved in such programmes. Perhaps and ensuring varied participation processes using a
the development, and through related engagement, as importantly, it offers the opportunity and context range of media, tools and processes. However, the
gain a better understanding the underlying issues for schools to embark on whole scale and real CPD overall outcomes are worth the effort, if there is the
embedded within the initiative. programmes to model and trial new pedagogies, conviction to place the pupil as active agent in the
develop new working relationships and practices learning process, as the research and theory suggests;
There is no doubt that the BSF programme will help with pupils for a transformed, more participatory to offer them greater choice, as initiatives such as
realise some of the intentions of ECM agenda. It will and engaging educational future. It will also enable personalisation promote; to enable them to make a
allow schools and local authorities to provide a more better planning of space based on these emerging positive contribution and enjoy and achieve, which
coherent and joined up vision with various services practices alongside the spaces that are suited to are aims stated in the Every Child Matters agenda;
accessible from a single site and services being current demands. Such approaches are also more and to transform and modernise learning experiences
better linked and networked through virtual learning likely to utilise new technologies in meaningful ways and offer opportunities to develop broader skills and
environments and infrastructure, and will make and harness their transformative potential. It must competencies that commentators recognise many
pupils environments safer and healthier. Clearly, any be stated clearly, that new technologies, whilst often pupils do not acquire sufficiently.
such achievements under the programme should be thought as synonymous to transformation, can, in
celebrated. fact, reinforce and entrench existing practice, albeit in This is even before we consider how such approaches
more modern ways. It is only when such technologies could ensure children’s rights, such as those outlined
However, what if we were to go one stage further? can be used meaningfully to enhance and change the in articles 12 & 13 of the United Nations Convention on
It is worth taking the time to consider what a underlying mode of learning that we can claim to see the Rights of the Child:
learning space of the future would be like if it were their transformative potential.
designed first and foremost to ensure pupils have Article 12 states: Parties shall assure to the child who
the support they need to: be healthy, stay safe, enjoy “The public is more familiar with is capable of forming his or her own views the right to
and achieve, make a positive contribution, achieve express those views freely in all matters affecting the
economic wellbeing. Moreover, what would the
bad design than good design. It child, the views of the child being given due weight in
process look like if we were to actively encourage is, in effect, conditioned to prefer accordance with the age and maturity of the child
pupils to be co-designers of such spaces? If nothing bad design, because that is what
else, such an exercise would help us step outside it lives with. The new becomes Article 13 states: The child shall have the right to
our institutionalised modes of thinking to envisage freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom
a different type of space. What services would be threatening, the old reassuring.” to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all
on the site? What resources might be indoors and Paul Rand kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or
outdoors, even on routes to the building, in order to in print, in the form of art, or through any other media
promote better health and well being? What learning of the child’s choice.
resources and materials might enhance this? How Co-design as pedagogy
could we assure pupils safety, and might the presence There is also another issue with BSF and pupil
of others actually increase the likelihood of this, rather BSF offers all of the above, if schools are willing to see engagement that should not be overlooked; that is that
than diminish it? How can we ensure our pupils will the programme as a co-design opportunity with pupils. pupils are also institutionalised. Again, we hear of co-
enjoy the learning experience? Do we know what Co-design projects potentially offer diverse, rich, and design projects with pupils which do not take the time
they’d find enjoyable and help them to achieve their empowering learning experiences for pupils that can to take pupils away from their internalised perceptions
broader aims? How can we design spaces that enable develop a range of skills and competencies and can of what a school is, looks like and does, and more
pupils to make a positive contribution, especially if involve them as active agents in meaningful ways importantly, what others think it should be, and this is
we don’t know if or how they want to contribute? And alongside a range and collaborating with a range of why we see worthy project but with outcomes whereby
how might we guarantee they achieve economic well other people. However, we need to make it very clear pupils have focussed largely on the aesthetics and
being? Might this require a whole new emphasis on indeed what co-design really means. comfort issues, rather than being involved in wider
the role of the school and the services provided on- discussions about changes in practices, learning and
site? We often hear of projects that claim to promote learner teaching approaches, relationships and so forth, which
participation, which in reality are little more than are fundamentally more important in informing design
Despite the dual challenge outlined earlier of delivering consultation exercises, often based on limited options. decisions and creating appropriate spaces for learning
new learning spaces to support current system This form of consultation is a largely passive exercise, in the future. It is also a means through which (with
requirements, yet support future transformation, BSF around pre-defined areas into which pupils have the right mechanisms and processes to overcome
offers a huge opportunity for those brave enough had little input. Moreover, consulting pupils around any fear or hierarchies) staff can learn with pupils
Paper one / Modelling Transformation: Co-design as Pedagogy, Embedding Learner Voice through BSF
A whole school do-design project which utilises in which they learn. BSF is a massive opportunity to
BSF as a vehicle for modelling and trialling new and transform learning if schools and authorities can only
transformed practices, offers the potential to support encapsulate these broader visions into their vision and
systemic transformation; an opportunity to model new designs alongside pupils in a learning process to really
practices through the co-design process; gives pupils create schools for the future.
exposure to a whole range of skills, competencies,
access to expertise and mechanisms. It could create We need to move away from viewing BSF as a building
opportunities for real, active and meaningful learning programme and to consider what transformation is
with tangible outputs; provide opportunities to and should be with regard to the skills, competencies
develop mentoring, moderation and mediation skills, and experiences for our pupils. We need to re-
reflection, and a vehicle through which to celebrate perceive BSF as a once in a lifetime opportunity to
achievements. build a better, more relevant, engaging and modern
educational future. We need to move away from the
There is a wealth of research evidence that points legally bounded perspective of ‘if we build it they
out both the relative paucity of co-design projects (pupils) will come’, to one that invites them to build it
with pupils, and also the huge and broad learning themselves, learn from the experience, and to own the
benefits that can arise (see for example: Humphries space and the learning processes that occur within it.
2009; Woodcock 2009; Den Besten et al. 2008;
Hart 1992). Trawling the wealth of evidence from “He that will not apply new
a range of fields, it is clear that co-design can
improve self esteem, sense of belonging, community
remedies must expect new evils;
connectedness, increase aspirations, and experience for time is the greatest innovator.”
of ‘lived citizenship’, in addition to benefits emanating Francis Bacon
from the new spaces or artefacts themselves. The
various processes and interactions involved offer
the possibility for pupils to improve team working,
project management, communication, collaboration,
design, creativity, discussion, debating, negotiation,
research, analysis, presenting arguments, decision
making, thinking and listening skills, as well as giving
them knowledge of various tools, mechanisms
and resources. This is in addition to the insights
they could gain of other fields, such as design,
landscaping, planning, graphic design, sustainability,
ecology, environmental issues, resourcing, financing,
educational approaches and so forth.
The evidence showing the learning benefits of
engaging pupils in meaningful, active and tangible
co-design projects in truly participatory ways is
compelling. The broader calls
We need to move for the need to transform
education in order to ensure
away from the we place learners at the heart
legally bounded of the learning process and
thereby develop more engaging
perspective of ‘if we learning experiences informed
build it they (pupils) by theory is evident.
will come’, to one The need to modernise
education to bring it in line
that invites them to with wider societal changes
build it themselves, and practices and create an
educational offering more
learn from the suited to the 21st century is
experience, and embedded within the political
literature, as is the need to
to own the space ensure we have a system in
and the learning which every child really does
matter and makes a positive
processes that contribution to the learning
occur within it. process and the institutions
Paper two / Polishing the Diamond: Adding Value to Croydon’s Educational Service
Polishing the Diamond:
Adding Value to Croydon’s ?
Three words that will shape this publication; Provoke, Here is my answer:
Sean McDougall, Stakeholder Design Design, Transformation
Provoke: (verb) to incite into action; also to raise
This is the first in a series of publications
commissioned by Croydon Local Authority as
the borough embarks on the biggest educational
investment programme in its history. It has been
specifically commissioned as a provocation paper –
but what exactly does that mean? Design:
(the design - noun), a solution, usually replicable, to a
At street level, provocation is associated with violence problem having sensual or systemic form.
and disorder. In my view, a good provocation paper (to design - verb), deliberate action towards resolution
will certainly lead readers to question much that they of a problem with sensual or systemic form.
thought to be unchallengeable. The best – the US
Declaration of Independence, for instance, or the Asked “Who was the first designer?” I like to say that it
Communist Manifesto, have the power to overthrow was the caveman who discovered how to make a fire
governments. But this paper isn’t that good. by banging flints together over kindling. Perhaps he
was absentmindedly banging some rocks together to
In schools, the word “provoking” often appears in make a noise when he noticed some sparks flying. The
conjunction with another word – we say “that was a thought process that he followed (“I wonder if I can do
very thought-provoking discussion”, or compliment that again?”; “What happens if I try this?” and “If I do
people on their ability to provoke laughter as part of that again over some dry sticks I might be able to start
their learning strategy. Designers like laughter – it is a fire”) reflect the design process as it has existed
a sign that two dissonant and apparently contrasting ever since.
thoughts have been reconciled. Where there is no
dissent there is no hope of change. In his head he had a sense of how he did it – a
memory of trying something out, seeing what worked
Dissenters make change possible by questioning the and what didn’t, making adjustments and perfecting
things that we now take for granted. With that in mind, the solution. But where was the design? In his
let us close this section by asking a question intended hands he held two flints and some kindling. Five
to provoke thought (and perhaps some disorder): minutes later he was sitting next to a small fire. But
these were just physical objects that could be found
What two objects would you pick anywhere. The design itself consisted of a series of
Just remember for a museum exhibit entitled instructions showing what materials to assemble (flints
that, when you British education, 1910-2010? and kindling), where to place them (flints above the
kindling) and how to use them (strike the flints against
place one foot in each other).
the future, you
Like flints and kindling, the school that you teach in
leave one foot is not a design. It is a tool which, used correctly, can
help you achieve a goal. If your goal is to fix a load
in the past. As of well-established, broadly understood problems
a designer, you – like narrow corridors, lack of light and cramped
classrooms – then the outcome of your design process
need to decide will be a school that represents the high water mark of
how far you feel Victorian teaching practice.
comfortable going If, on the other hand, the goal is to end the cycle of
– then go further. unemployment and deprivation in the local community,
Paper two / Polishing the Diamond: Adding Value to Croydon’s Educational Service
you may find yourself in more fertile territory. Given make something new? All of these are questions that and the wider society in which they lived. Schools Here’s another one of those provocative thoughts I’ve
the task in hand, you will feel at liberty to look around Dyson asked in relation to vacuum cleaners. closed at Easter and Summer for the simple reason been asked to include:
the community, asking what resources are available, that children were needed to help with planting and
how they might be combined together and used, With that in mind, here is another provocative harvesting. As the agrarian economy gave way to the The writer Malcolm Gladwell has proved beyond
and what the benefits might be. Eventually, you question: challenge of industry, children would have been glad of doubt that the convention that schools close over
may start to bring elements together with a view to a place at school, their lives otherwise full of drudgery the summer is the main reason for working class
doing something new. Like the caveman, you will be In 2030, what percentage of time do you think learners and effort. educational under-achievement, who fall 10% further
designing. will spend sitting in classroom? Is it necessary to wait behind each year that it happens. Working through
until then before adopting the new way of working? Running an empire that spanned the globe carried an the summer would not only help to rescue the lives
All designs bring together pre-existing elements for a administrative burden that of our most vulnerable learners; it would liberate a
new purpose. No doubt, your design will also combine The writer Malcolm ran far beyond the capacity generation of mothers whose careers were wrecked so
past, present and future. Just remember that, when Four words that will shape the Gladwell has proved of the rich and titled. Thus the that teachers could have a holiday. Their taxes would
you place one foot in the future, you leave one foot in few created a way to educate more than cover the cost of a pay-rise to compensate
the past. As a designer, you need to decide how far
future of Croydon beyond doubt that the many. The classroom for loss of liberty.
you feel comfortable going – then go further. – in design terms, nothing
Anyone who has ever bought an engagement ring the convention more than a primitive mass How could we cut our educational diamond?
knows the routine. For rather more than you can afford
It’s time for another one of those thought-provoking
you receive rather less than you expected. Croydon
that schools close communications device – was
questions: the result. There, millions of Unlimited, a secondary school in Christchurch, New
is about to make a lifelong commitment, so it makes over the summer potential empire-workers Zealand, demonstrates the extent to which learning
sense to look rather more closely than usual at the
- How many types of design can you think of?
diamond. is the main reason acquired the skills that would opportunities in British schools are constrained by
help keep the sun shining boundaries of place, time, age, methods and areas
Here are two to start you off: product design and for working class on the Empire: the ability of study. There, the entire community is a learning
In this country, the best place to find out about
graphic design. If you want your new school to be a
diamonds is at Hatton Gardens in London. There, they educational under- to read, write and count, environment. Students use the public library, the parks,
success, you need to engage with each and every one essential to the administration the leisure centre and the shops, rather than having
of them. A full list is given in the appendix.
will tell you that a diamond has to be assessed against achievement, who of tax and policy; geography all of these replicated within the walls of a cloistered
four quite distinct criteria. They are:
fall 10% further and history, explaining how community.
• and why Britain came to Unlimited’s students direct their own learning, aligning
Cut behind each year
Transform: (verb). To exchange one shape, dominate a quarter of the interests with curriculum and qualification needs. So,
arrangement, structure or appearance for something earth’s surface; and religion. if the topic of the moment is conflict, one student
Carat that it happens.
fundamentally different. Whether destined to be a may research the Maori Wars, while another looks
welder, soldier, missionary at Gallipoli and a third studies Iraq. Teachers report
Herman d’Hooge, an innovation strategist at Intel, or civil servant, schools were a good training ground. that it is no more difficult than keeping an entire class
Let’s imagine that our modern schooling system
once remarked that “successful products create Each of these occupations is based on apprenticeship, focused on a subject that appeals only to some of
is a diamond – how does it measure up using this
their own valley of death” and prevent innovation hierarchy and obedience. Students wore ‘uniform’, them and that it makes for really interesting debates,
from happening around them. Forks and spoons, for sat in ‘class’ and were ‘schooled’. The output was during which students gain fresh insights into the
instance, are largely unchallenged as a way of holding generation upon generation of obedient specialists. subject from a range of perspectives.
food. Yet, as the example of chopsticks proves, there The ability to do exactly as told, to the exact
are alternatives. Cut - How well has British education been shaped? specification of the teacher, in the precise timescale Pupils at Unlimited are not constrained by age from
chosen by the teacher, remains the major asset of reaching their full potential. I met a student who
Schools are one of the most successful products of all Education is effectively based on a people who succeed at school today. was running a logo design agency with clients in
time. Replicated on a global scale, they have changed mid-Victorian church service. As can Europe and the United States. Like any adult, he
our understanding of how something is done and what be seen from the photograph, the During the early, agrarian era, schools resembled has been exempted from certain modules of his
it should look like. However, in so doing, they have classroom itself resembles a place of something from The Little House on the Prairie, but business studies course where he has already proved
killed off many of the alternatives. Today, as we build worship, with a large arched door, a they were not immune to pressure to change. The competency. With the support of his teachers, he is
schools in Uganda, we are engaged in assimilation; high ceiling and a pulpit. This format industrial economy, symbolised by the production using the time saved to take a course at university.
the price will include the death of an oral culture dating was chosen because it is uniquely line, found its parallel in schools too. Schools kept Faced with such wonderful, user-centred, flexible
back to the Stone Age. well suited to mass indoctrination the ‘one minister per church’ model, but began to put support, it is natural to ask if there is any reason why
into a single way of thinking. Having them side by side along a corridor. Like car workers, we persist with the idea of 30 pupils of the same age
In time, people at the top of institutions become dressed up for the occasion, pupils teachers now specialised in one aspect of production doing the same thing in the same way at the same
resistant to change. When James Dyson approached would come into the room and sit – geography (wheels), or Physics (engines); all day, time and for the same length of time.
Hoover with his idea for a better form of vacuum silently in rows, facing the front, just they would wait for raw materials to arrive and then
cleaner, his proposal was dismissed out of hand. like a congregation. perform the same task in order to add value. It was a Unlimited combines innovative pedagogy with
Luckily, by combining elements of past and future, system well suited to mass manufacture of identical a genuinely sustainable approach to the built
he found a way to wander through the valley of death They would perform their tasks simultaneously, doing products. environment. Instead of putting millions into
and live. Today, we are more likely to say “It’s a the same thing at the same time and in the same way That system has continued to the present day and, in destruction of buildings and construction of new ones
Dyson” than “It’s a Hoover.” We need to subject the as everyone else. The teacher, mimicking the parish at least 90% of BSF schools, is the system proposed (all in the name of sustainability), they use a grant
word “School” to the same challenge that Hoover priest, would then deliver a ‘lesson’. for the future. The problem is that manufacturing now equivalent to the annual rates and maintenance cost
faced. What is the new word that will replace “School/ provides less than a third of our economic wealth. A to rent suitable empty spaces for reconfiguration as
Schooling”? Which elements of the Victorian-inspired The Victorians were very clever in this approach to system like this, designed for white Christians, cut learning environments. Architects have shown how
design for school and schooling remain relevant, education. Not only did they choose a format that for a time of slow change and export of high quality easy it is to turn factories into flats; designers love
effective and workable? And which need to be most people already recognised (a church service), but goods, is never going to withstand the challenges of working in old warehouses; it is just as easy to turn the
replaced with something else? Where do we need to they thought holistically about the needs of the pupils the early 21st century. top floor of an office block or a shopping centre into a
place of learning.
Paper two / Polishing the Diamond: Adding Value to Croydon’s Educational Service
Colour – What colours our perception of school address the needs and preferences of the suppliers. Here are a few unarguable facts: colleges in the Greater London area would be
today? And what is it like to be a person of colour in Think about it: each teacher gets their own space, mandated to recruit on a 50:50 basis.
mainstream education? filled with kit that will make their jobs easier. The – 80% of black working class boys leave school at 16.
children get cheap plastic seats that damage their This compares with 77% of white middle class girls Three to five years later, children in Croydon’s schools
Our perception of educational renewal is very aptly backs and spend all day marching round in uniform as going to university. would start to see a slight shift in the appointment
summed up in the phrase “Building Schools for the if they were on parade. culture. While white teachers would remain by far the
Future”. This contains three fundamental errors. – By 2012, over half of all jobs advertised in Croydon largest group, new appointments would include equal
Children at British schools spend 1,200hours a year will require a degree. numbers of white and BME teachers.
Building. Asked to name a good design, over 90% sitting on cheap plastic seats designed for occasional,
of the British public will name an object like an iPod, short term use. Teachers are banned by law from – Within 5 years, children entering the school system in Within ten years, despite some initial institutional
an E-type Jaguar or the Pompidou Centre. No-one using them as their main seat. What are you doing Greater London will be equally split between white and resistance, a third of staff at Croydon’s schools would
ever mentions the queue, which is a brilliant way of to address this blatant age discrimination, which in other ethnicities. be of BME origin. Children of black origin would find
managing access to a scarce resource, or electronic addition to damaging children’s backs is a major themselves being taught by people who understood
payment systems, which make it so much easier to reason for loss of concentration in the classroom? their culture and could act as role models.
get into debt. Unsurprisingly, when Half of all students in some schools will be black,
...children civil servants with little or no idea of Supplier-led design began to go out of fashion in the Asian or other minority ethnic group. Is it even As the final BSF schools were completed, six of them
from black and designimprovearchitects how they
education, the answer
1960s and persists in education only because children remotely acceptable to imagine them being taught by would be run by black or Asian headteachers.
are so fundamentally disempowered. The average teachers from a single ethnic background and cultural
minority ethnic was “build new schools”. This is BSF consultation process gives less than 0.1% of the outlook?
tantamount to asking the car industry design development time to children. If, like Tesco, Carat – How valuable is school today?
communities how to improve our transport system. Nike, Apple and Toyota, the education sector was In the cold light of day the real message contained
are more likely The task is not to design a new car – it to embrace the concept of “user-led design” things in the statistics is that schools are set up to support It is great that the government has committed fully
is to design a new way of getting from would be radically different. As it is, there seems to be some sections of the community much £75 billion to transforming education. However, it
to be accused A to B. a direct correlation between teacher satisfaction with By 2012, over better than others. One of the saddest is discomfiting, to say the least, to discover that
of being the building and its resemblance to a prison:
half of all jobs truths about ourperform just as wellisas
education system they intend to spend ALL of it on buildings and
Schools. The very notion of ‘school’ that black boys infrastructure. When I asked the respected architect
improperly carries with it an image so singular This school solves a number of problems for teachers. advertised other children at age 5. However, each Alexi Marmot to state where she would put new
dressed, and and precise that scope for change is Each has their own classroom, with glass walls year thereafter they fall further and buildings on the ‘educational bang-for-the-buck’
limited to tinkering with the shape. allowing light to enter and assuring passing students
in Croydon further behind. The reason for this has spectrum she said “the building is the last thing you
three times This is known as ‘styling.’ It is the part that they are being watched. Corridors also supply will require a nothing to do with ability and everything should change.”
of the design process that has least
more likely to impact on performance, yet it is the
good sight lines over the entire area. Shrinking the
to do with perception: as a DCSF report
classrooms slightly and putting gates at the end of the published in 2007 found, “When marked Alexi is a very gifted and insightful architect. She was
be excluded part that headteachers give most time corridors is really all that would be needed to create “blind”, black children “significantly not saying that the building should not be changed;
to. Imagine If we could set it aside
from school. for a moment and instead consider
a truly secure environment. The relationship between outperformed” their white peers. But when assessed rather that it should be changed after everything else
staff and students is bound to by their teachers, the opposite was the case.” has been reassessed. And in so doing she was also
the many ways in which educational be tense. admitting that changing how you teach will have much
services could be made available across the whole Some people may be asking what all this has to do more impact on learning than changing where you
community. Soon we would be talking about Open One of the major factors colouring teacher perception with BSF. Well, British schools are being designed by teach.
University schools, drop-in centres, mobile learning of children is their willingness to comply. If children a single sector of society. Naturally, the school of the
centres, on-line institutions and, yes, a number of refuse to go to Mathematics at the pre-determined future, as envisaged by these white, middle class and We have, several times in the past, embarked on
traditional schools, available in a range of sizes. All but time, the school will not be able to function. bookish people, is one in which they will continue a programme of building-led change. The idea is
the last of these would be cheaper to build and run, Willingness to wear uniform as told becomes a test of to flourish. that the building will somehow catalyse systemic
and the evidence suggests that most would be more obedience; children who do not conform can quickly innovation. This seldom if ever happens. More often,
effective. find themselves excluded from mainstream education. In Northern Ireland, where the police force was lack of systemic thinking means that staff arrive in the
Unfortunately, children from black and minority ethnic similarly weighted in favour of one community, genuine new school with only one operational model in their
Future. Rather than doing the future a favour, we may communities are more likely to be accused of being transformation required recruitment to the police head (the old one). When the new building, complete
be in danger of sabotaging it. For some unfathomable improperly dressed, and three times more likely to be to be done on a 50:50 basis. Over a with partition walls and big open spaces, proves less
reason, possibly linked to raging political ego, it was excluded from school. 80% of black period of twenty years, the entire police capable than the old building to support traditional
decided that we should rebuild or renew all of our force will come to be representative of teaching, staff set about rearranging it as before.
schools in one go. As a result, they will all age at the What is it like to be a person working the community it serves. Something Partition walls are closed and bricked up; open spaces
same rate and become decrepit at the same time. of colour in a British school? class boys similar, implemented across Greater are partitioned off; staff refuse to commit extra time
Rather than building them all at once, we could have London during the same timeframe as to training. Instead, they grumble that nothing works
opted to rebuild 2% of them every year for 50 years, In Croydon today, over leave school BSF, would deliver transformation of in the new school. If you don’t believe that this will
spreading costs and ensuring that each generation
of buildings would be better than the last. Teachers
100 different languages at 16. This outcomes on a scale not seen since our happen to you, then listen to heads who have recently
are spoken by people from system was invented by the Victorians. been through the process. Around 90% of schools
working in schools would be incentivised to develop at least the same number compares with built so far through BSF have been rated “poor” or
practice more than once every fifty years. of countries. Yet schools 77% of white If London and Croydon implemented “very poor” by staff using them.
continue to reflect an the Northern Ireland Patten Report.
As it is, many teachers look to the future as a place extraordinary degree of middle class Recognising that, within five years, The cost to society of building a new school is
that will solve all their problems. Their approach to institutional bias in favour up to half of children entering school primarily measured in the cost of construction
school design is known in the industry as “supplier-led of white, middle class and
girls going to would be of black and minority ethnic (£20m+). This represents approximately 5% of
design”. That means the building has been created to bookish learners. university. backgrounds, all teacher training the actual costs of having a school for 20 years, if
Paper two / Polishing the Diamond: Adding Value to Croydon’s Educational Service
and promotes personal responsibility. One of the best What is the difference between innovation and scientists do; they are pre-approved for inclusion in
schools delivering on this objective does not even perpetuation? Both occur in the future, but only one your new school and have been carefully mapped
have physical form: it is an online school created solely involves change. Where you draw the line between the against the curriculum. However, they require an
for children who have been permanently excluded two will decide whether BSF is a triumph or a tragedy. entirely new approach to the teaching of science – one
from school. Notschool, as its name suggests, is that is instantly collaborative, project-based, based on
deliberately constructed to be as unlike school as For the early Victorians, it was much simpler: the hypothesis and refinement.
possible. To take just one example: children may log lack of a system meant that there was nothing to
on from their bedroom or wherever they happen to be, perpetuate. Recognising that the needs of society That leaves design. Design, as a subject, is taught
at whatever time they like, to study whichever area of were changing on a hitherto unknown scale, they in schools. But design as a survival skill is not.
the curriculum matters to them at that time. If they log responded by asking a series of perceptive questions: Unfortunately, this means that the people who are
on at 4am, they will be connected to a teacher in New charged with overhauling our education system are
Zealand who will work with them remotely. At 4pm, a – What skills are needed for the future? doing so without using any of the creative thinking
British teacher will do the job. – What kind of people have those skills already? techniques that would be used elsewhere. The paucity
– How many people need to acquire those skills? of awareness of the importance of involving designers
The most amazing thing about Notschool is the – What is the best way to transfer those skills? at strategic planning level is revealed just by looking at
improvement in educational performance that it the speaker list on any BSF conference. It will either by
delivers. Across the UK, children who have been We have already explored some of their answers. Vast all teacher, or a mix of teacher and architect.
permanently excluded from school have about a one numbers of literate, numerate and obedient people
percent chance of obtaining 5 GCSEs. At Notschool, were needed to ensure the continued success of A survey of the UK’s leading employers conducted
those same children have a pass rate in excess of the Empire. The largest pool of potential suppliers by A&B listed the characteristics of low-creativity
one includes bills, wages, equipment and the like. 50%. The next most amazing achievement is its comprised women from wealthy backgrounds and the workplaces. The top three were:
Assuming that, after 20 years, costs begin to rise (due impact on criminality. According to Professor Stephen best way to transfer the skills was to assemble lots of
to the increased need to make repairs and changing Heppell, who helped to set it up, registration at children within earshot of a single supplier. Churches • Lack of creative mentors and suitable training
operational requirements), we may say that the cost of Notschool has resulted in a collapse in re-offending conveniently offered both an unused space and a (36%)
having a school for 60 years is at least £1.2 billion. rates. Notschool builds an appetite for employment format for teaching obedience.
and keeps people out of prison. It does it for a tiny • A dull and unexciting physical work environment
For that, what do we actually get? According to the fraction of the cost of maintaining a traditional school. Today we are facing a change in the economy (27%)
CBI, British companies contribute around £110 billion every bit as fundamental as that of the industrial
a year in corporation tax, much of which is used to In design, we have a concept of ‘canaries’. Miners revolution. Industrial society was predicated on the • Atmosphere and working practices are not
fund schools. In return, all they ask is that people used to take canaries with them as an early warning skilful assembly of raw materials to create goods and conducive to the development of creativity skills
who leave school should be good candidates for system for gas leaks. Today, anyone can be a canary. services of added value. The knowledge economy will (23%)
employment. Unfortunately, as things stand, less than Black boys are canaries telling us that our educational require people who can skilfully assemble new ideas
50% of them meet that standard, as more than half of system is leaking. Notschool is a canary too, telling into valuable propositions. Success will depend on
students are unable to secure five good GCSE passes us that children can do better when the institutional finding people who have those skills already and then From a child’s perspective, this sounds remarkably like
including English and Maths. From an employer’s point conventions of education are removed. Imagine how creating environments in which learners can develop a school. So what can be done to improve the ability
of view, schools are failing badly. your students would do if they had access to the their skills. of school leaders to see over the horizon and plan free
same working environment as excluded children at from the constraints of convention?
Learning is the Children who are not in education, Notschool. A fifty-fold improvement in educational Most new ideas are turned into valuable propositions
training and employment between performance is surely worth a second look. by academic researchers, scientists and designers. Firstly, if our children are to prosper in the fiercely
pathway to the age of 16 and 18 are said to cost While schools can rightly claim credit for their ability competitive and rapidly changing economy of 2020,
employment, the taxpayer over £8 billion over their to produce wave after wave of academics, the record they will need time and spaces in which to practice
lifetime in the form of unemployment Clarity – How clearly do we see the future? is not so good with science and design. When I was new ways of thinking. Those spaces already exist:
which boosts benefit, rent support and the like. They appointed to work on the DCSF’s Project Faraday, I they can be found at Google, Apple and Virgin, or
income, also deprive the Exchequer of around
“People ask me to predict the was told that it was named in recognition that science almost any architecture or design practice. They are a
£7 billion in tax revenue. teaching in school has hardly changed at all since the world away from the church/ factory environment of a
reduces crime future, when all I want to do is time of Faraday. Indeed, thanks to health and safety traditional school.
To put this in perspective just imagine
and promotes that, each year, 10 children leave prevent it. Better yet, build it.
paranoia, some children are not even allowed to
touch test tubes these days! The result is that children Secondly, we need to recognise that teachers do
personal your school and become long term Predicting the future is much too perceive one of the most exciting and rewarding not, at present, fulfil the role of creative mentor. Until
unemployed. The cost after ten years careers available as drab and boring. Dozens of children can see teachers actively redesigning their
responsibility. will be around £1,000,000 per year easy, anyway. You look at the university science departments are now faced profession, they will not see them as role models.
per school by the time that the cost of people around you, the street with closure as they can no longer attract enough
administering their unemployment has been taken applicants to keep their science departments open. Thirdly, we need to think again about how and where
into account. you stand on, the visible air you education underpins society. That is not to say that
None of this takes into account the increased cost of
breathe, and predict more of the The DCSF responded by commissioning a series of everyone needs to pass through the educational
designs for a new approach to science teaching and sausage machine. However, access to education is
healthcare faced by the poorest members of society, same. To hell with more. learning. Our own work included robotics laboratories, key to good community relations, prosperity, good
or the cost of prison. a natural reed-bed that recycles water and harbours mental health and self-esteem, and support of our
I want better.” wildlife, and a huge tube allowing children to explore other public services. There is no reason at all why
A good social regeneration plan is going to place the effects of gravity, force and acoustics. These, these services need to be centralised using a school
learning front and centre. Learning is the pathway to and other ideas produced by different designers, model.
Beyond 1984: The People Machines.
employment, which boosts income, reduces crime offer children the chance to work in the way that real
Polishing the Diamond: Adding Value to /Croydon’s Educational Service Sean McDougall p.13 Service
Paper two Polishing the Diamond: Adding Value to Croydon’s Educational
Those who say the building must precede systemic Conclusion
change are wasting their breath – that is a phrase
used as a stalling tactic by people inexperienced I hope that this paper has struck a balance between
in innovation and unaccustomed to working as provoking and offending. At times I have offended
designers. There is a short window of opportunity myself (I am a fan of summer holidays) but in the
during which Croydon headteachers can begin the limited space available it is sometimes better to state
process of change. Here are three things that you can the idea than explain the alternatives.
do in the interim period before you enter BSF:
Having read this paper, you may now in good
• Take one room off timetable. This then becomes conscience model yourself on one of the following
a think tank through which you practice and three people:
familiarise yourself with future learning scenarios.
Ask students how they think next week’s lesson • A visitor. In which case you may say “Thanks very
should be taught, then set the room up for that much. I enjoyed that, but I’m going to stay right
purpose. In this way, it also becomes a forum for here.”
user-led design of learning services.
• A migrant. Perhaps you will see something in this
• Move to a three week timetable for a period of paper that inspires you to say “I like what I’ve
three weeks. Instead of spending one hour on seen; I’m going to move from this educational
English on a Monday, you spend three hours. world to that educational world.”
Double geography becomes a whole day on the
subject. Doing this forces teachers to reconsider • An explorer. My most earnest hope is that some
how lessons happen, but does not reduce the of the people who read this paper will say “I am
actual teaching time by a single minute. (Thanks going to become an explorer just like him”. If that
to Stephen Heppell for the suggestion) is the case, I look forward to learning from you as
you push the boundaries and show your staff and
• Organise a ‘not like us’ study tour. Instead of students just how much can be achieved.
going to see places that look like a school and
work like a school, but happen to be slightly
better than your own, take time to visit places that
challenge your notions of how education happens.
Visit an advertising agency to see how people in
new media work; sit in a town square and imagine
how you could use the hotels, offices, cafes,
parks and the like to build a school without using
any bricks; talk to people who hated school... they
are your target market.
Paper three / Life Between Classrooms - Applying Public Space Theory to Learning Environments
Life Between Classrooms This is a response to the TCS theme: “The Spaces Gehl has more recently summarised the three main
Applying Public Space Theory Between Classrooms” In this paper we discuss Jan
Gehl’s theory of public space and how it might apply
to learning environments today, using the examples
features of good public space: all the space between
buildings (self-contained destinations) in a city.
to Learning Environments
of school and university campuses, and exploring the Marketplace
emerging role of informal learning in the 21st Century. ‘Marketplace’ can refer to shops and stalls, but
also to any place at which a transaction of ideas or
performance might occur. In schools this might include
Prakash Nair and Annalise Gehling, The Theory of Public Space
learning studios, lecture theatres, libraries, cafes and
Fielding Nair International Danish architect Jan Gehl’s widely renowned book
‘Life Between Buildings’ was first published in 1971
Public space needs to encourage people to move
and translated into English in 1987. The book was a through it by foot or on bike, so it needs to have
critique of the modernist focus on city buildings and destinations at either end as well as along the route.
roads at the expense of multifunctional public space; In a school setting this means that the space is used
space which in the modernist movement had been to access a number of different semi-private rooms or
neglected. People were expected to use their cars facilities.
to travel between home, shops and a workplace that
were all situated in different city zones. Meeting place
We are ‘Meeting place’ means that there are furnishings that
motivated The modernists thought of cities as encourage people to stop and chat with each other. In
being organs for economic production: urban settings this means benches and tables to sit at,
by social people would go to work to produce pillars to gather around and lean things against, and
goods, they would buy goods in shops,
experiences: and they would consume goods in
trees to provide shade. In indoor school settings this
might mean small, round tables to gather at, ‘edge’
we enjoy their homes. It was a simple model seats in windowsills or booths, and floor cushions.
that reduced people to producers
watching other and consumers, and not one that
people, looking acknowledged our human nature and
Applying this theory to school
motivation very well.
out for people design
we know, and Gehl noted that public space had
Why this is important for schools? Put simply, in the
been neglected in the rush to separate
some of us commercial, residential and industrial same way as the modernists reduced their concept
of human beings to producers and consumers so that
enjoy being zones, and that the spaces between
they would fit neatly into their city model, schools for
buildings had become in many cases a
watched! car-dominated wasteland, in contrast many years were designed around a very simple notion
to the traditional European town square of students. Students were empty vessels to be filled
with its cafes spilling out of buildings, and people with knowledge, which was thought to be possible by
going about their business and leisure in the quiet grouping them together by age, and delivering content
company of the city. to them. It was a factory model, in much the same way
as the modernists saw the city as one big money-
Gehl’s thesis is important because it acknowledges making factory.
our social nature as human beings. We are motivated
by social experiences: we enjoy watching other Another parallel is that much in the same way as
people, looking out for people we know, and some modernist city planners tended to build with cars
of us enjoy being watched! All of us appreciate the in mind, instead of people, 19th and 20th Century
way space feels safer (and it actually is safer) when school design tended to build for exclusively for
there are other people around – we keep each other’s classes instead of individuals. This can be seen in
behaviour in-check because we all want to be socially the form of the classroom and corridor (‘cells and
acceptable. Jane Jacobs wrote about this in her book bells’) school design that assumes all students will be
The Death and Life of Great American Cities. doing the same thing at the same time using the same
Paper three / Life Between Classrooms - Applying Public Space Theory to Learning Environments
The good news is that in the same way that cities Classrooms and Formal Learning There are invitations to participate: Art is on display
are now being designed to enhance and build social everywhere to be appreciated (marketplace). There
capital, schools are also being designed around Spaces: are computers, books and other resources readily
these acknowledgements of our human nature. what is their role in a 21st Century available (marketplace).
Understanding why this change is important helps Learning Environment?
teachers and students to be able to use it effectively There are places to meet: Most importantly, there
– in a sense to ‘un-train’ themselves after years Classrooms and other formal learning spaces such are places to meet with others in personal, small
of modifying their behaviour to fit or rebel against as laboratories, studios, theatres and small group and large groupings. Soft seating and small, round
the traditional ‘cells’ (classrooms) of factory model tutorial or discussion rooms are very important parts tables offer themselves as meeting places for pairs
schools. of a school, and they are necessarily enclosed in many and small groups. This kind of space is referred to in
cases. Wherever the learning modality involves some The Language of School Design as ‘Watering Hole’
kind of presentation it is important that the space be space, drawing on one of Dr. David Thornburg’s three
Corridors: oriented to that focal point. Primordial Learning Metaphors. It’s space in which
people can learn from each other in a peer setting.
the clogged freeways of school
However, the proportion of a student’s time spent
sitting and listening to a lecture or presentation is There are places for solitude and reflection: Another
Corridors are the most obvious example of public
ideally small in comparison to the time spent on of the Primordial Learning Metaphors noted by Dr.
space in a school but they only provide two of
problem solving, hands-on learning, independent Thornburg is the ‘Cave’: a space for solitude and
the three functions: thoroughfare and (not very
study, working in teams and other project-based quiet reflection. Human beings like this kind of space
convincingly in most cases) marketplace. Typically
learning. Dissemination of information can be entirely to face the action: when you are by yourself at an
unfurnished and without any nooks or crannies, they
personalised and globalised in the broadband age airport gate you generally choose the seat that gives
don’t offer anywhere for meeting or quiet observation
and beyond, and students are well aware of this. For the best vantage point for viewing other people, and
this reason we need to reconsider the proportion of which has your back to a wall. Incorporating seating
Fig 1: A traditional New York school corridor. No ‘meeting place’ function at all
our schools’ indoor spaces that privilege a stand-and- in windowsills and other nooks and crannies in these
This means they aren’t nice places to spend time in:
deliver modality. kinds of spaces makes it OK for students to be by
you are inclined to hurry off and find another space for
themselves, since they are in a sense ‘invited’ by the
Without the passive supervision of a range of students Indoor Public Space in Schools:
and adults ‘hanging out’ in the space between purposes, key features and a
classrooms, corridors often become a site for bullying
and rough behaviour. It is important to understand
that a school can exist without corridors. A classic
If we stop expecting schools to consist of corridors
example of a school where corridors are replaced by
and classrooms, and instead expect them to offer a
public space is at Millennium High School in New York
range of formal and informal learning environments,
City (figure 2). Beyond its ability to connect various
we almost never end up with corridors, as they simply
elements of the school more effectively than a corridor,
don’t make for good quality public space.
it also serves as the school’s much-needed ‘meeting
place’. By adding suitable furniture it encourages
Instead, the spaces between formal learning areas
use of the space for productive social and academic
are designed specifically for the purpose of informal
learning: learning from peers, learning by application,
and learning a range of highly sought-after ‘soft’
In addition, having windows between the semi-private
skills that are increasingly demanded by the business
spaces (meeting rooms, classrooms, specialist spaces,
community as well as anyone with a desire for safer
offices) and what has then become the ‘commons’
further improves that space in the same way as house
and shop windows make a streetscape safer and more
In these indoor public spaces, often referred to as
‘Learning Commons’, or in some cases ‘Einstein
Fig 2: Indoor public space at Millennium High School, New York Studios’, students are not forced into a particular way
of behaving, as they are in a classroom, “Sit down and
wait for some spoon feeding,” or a corridor, “Get out
of here and into a nicer, lighter place with a spot to
sit.” Instead, there are subtle cues offering an invitation
to learn, each of them contributing to its marketplace/
thoroughfare/meeting place qualities:
There are interesting things happening: people you
know are walking past (thoroughfare-meeting place),
conversations are happening (meeting place), special
events are being set-up or are in progress (meeting Fig 3 - Above: Indoor public space, the ‘Café/Commons’ at Duke
place/marketplace). School, North Carolina, USA. Each of the school’s Small Learning
Communities has its own Café/Commons.
Paper three / Life Between Classrooms - Applying Public Space Theory to Learning Environments
Outdoor Public Space in Schools: between different facilities on the school campus, work, an Einstein Studio (indoor Public Space)
school grounds typically have no thoroughfare offering a large number of computers and displays,
purposes, key features and a qualities. Universities, on the other hand, usually and metres away is the school’s Health and Physical
rationale do, mixing in many cases seamlessly with the urban Education Centre. Sculptures created by local artists
surrounds. Wherever possible, senior secondary are purposefully located in amongst the immediate
There are many good reasons for encouraging schools should embody the same principles so that indoor and outdoor spaces. Each of these facilities is
students to spend time outside during the formal learning becomes a regular part of the streetscape, an invitation to engage in learning in the same way as
breaks of recess and lunch, and most schools do providing a positive platform that supports teenagers’ shops engage passers-by.
encourage this as long as the weather is not inclement. eagerness to engage with the wider community.
In many schools students do not have the option of Worth mentioning here, though it isn’t a focal point of
staying inside – though quite often this is because Within regular school campuses, the principle of the public space discussion, is the quality of outdoor
there is no suitable place for them to play indoors thoroughfare should still be embraced: where are the play facilities for students of all ages. This is a key part
– as discussed under the previous heading isolated most heavily used pedestrian routes on the campus? of the outdoor ‘marketplace’ of activities available on a
classrooms and barren corridors do not make for good Identify these and build up the ‘marketplace’ and school site. Younger students are usually provided with
student-directed space. ‘meeting place’ functions around them. some form of play equipment, which can prescribe
play to a greater or lesser extent. Equipment that
Either way, if we expect students to spend time ‘Meeting place’ space should be relatively simple to provides children with a range of possibilities is always
outside socialising, we need to provide them with create. Small outdoor table groupings, reminiscent of the best kind for play-based learning. Older students
spaces that support the kinds of social development café-type settings, and amphitheatre-type/ multi-level should also be given opportunities for climbing as
we’re seeking for them: places to sit and chat and eat terrace spaces provide natural locations for informal well as the hard play surfaces that usually dominate
in small groups, under cover if the climate requires. small-group discussion or socialising. In Australia, secondary school yards – bouldering walls are one
Large undifferentiated spaces can encourage a bit of a Scotch Oakburn College’s new Middle School campus example of a suitable climbing structure that can be
mob – it is better to have smaller groupings scattered (figure 4) gives students a range of different meeting used by a wide variety of ages (see Figure 6).
informally. place options. Importantly, the tables and chairs, and
amphitheatre, are both located right in the middle of An essential resource for any school developing its
The Amphitheatre at Scotch Oakburn College’s Middle the main thoroughfare from the rest of the campus outdoor play areas is www.freeplaynetwork.org.uk.
School (Fig 4) is located right at the building’s front to the Middle School building. This is by far the most
door and incorporates elements of thoroughfare, heavily trafficked area, meaning there are plenty of
meeting place and marketplace. Compare this to the opportunities for people-watching and incidental Small Learning Communities:
poor quality outdoor space at a UK school (Fig 5). meet-ups.
Thoroughfare is the only aspect of public space that Making Indoor Public Space Work
this example supports, somewhat by default ‘Marketplace’ is also relevant in the case of this
Outdoors, many schoolyards provide only basic Small Learning Communities (SLCs) are self-contained
important public space at Scotch Oakburn College.
equipment for primary school students and no ‘schools within schools’ that support interdisciplinary
Immediately adjacent the Amphitheatre is a student-
amenities at all for secondary students. Let’s consider learning and strong teacher-student relationships in a
run café (Café Eight), a Da Vinci Studio containing
each provision in terms of Gehl’s theory of public series of formal and informal learning spaces. Figure
readily accessible tools for art and science projects
space. Where is the thoroughfare? Besides travel 3, of Duke School, NC, shows part of the informal
and facilities for any kind of messy construction
learning area/indoor public space that is ‘owned’ by
a group of around 100 students and their teachers,
and is surrounded by a variety of different larger and
smaller learning studios. In this space it is perfectly
acceptable to work or to socialise without fear of
admonishment or retribution.
SLCs have emerged as a new building block for
schools over the past five years. The old building
block: the classroom, was for many schools
increasingly inadequate for the wide range of 21st
century learning opportunities teachers wanted
for their students. It was also recognised as
counterintuitive to the schools’ pastoral care aims.
SLCs have been developed in many different culturally
and climatically sensitive forms in the UK as wells as
the USA, Australia, Cayman Islands, New Zealand and
For a comprehensive discussion of the different types
of SLC and the features common to all of them, we
recommend reading Chapter 1 of The Language of
School Design (Second Edition, 2009) by Nair, Fielding
Fig 6: Bouldering wall at the University of Puget Sound (Washington, and Lackney.
Fig 4 Fig 5 USA) (photo courtesy www.pugetsound.edu)
Paper three / Life Between Classrooms - Applying Public Space Theory to Learning Environments
Space Beyond School: Using urban
public space for learning
It is in schools’ best interest to campaign for high
quality public space in their towns and cities. Urban
public space, if designed specifically to cater for the
thoroughfare/meeting place/marketplace functions, is
safe space for older students to conduct independent
research and effective space for
School campuses younger students to conduct
supervised research. This is
need to also because good public space attracts
consider their people, who when surrounded by
others are naturally inclined to keep
own public space their own behaviour in check. Jane
Jacobs’ book The Death and Life of
– indoor and Great American Cities explains this
outdoor – and concept in some detail.
work to ensure In Melbourne, Australia, Federation
it is productive, Square has since 2001 provided
visitors and residents of the city with
safe and inviting. a natural meeting place for a wide
range of informal cultural events. It
also functions much as the city’s lounge room. Many
local schools now use the city as a living textbook,
and Federation Square as a base, sending middle
and high school students out in small study teams to
investigate various aspects of city life and function.
This is only possible thanks to the ‘life on the street’
that developments such as Federation Square and the
city’s network of pedestrian-dominated laneways have
High quality public space, the ‘space between
buildings’, is extremely important for encouraging
positive social behaviours, and this is increasingly
recognised in the designs of towns and cities.
School campuses need to also consider their own
public space – indoor and outdoor – and work to
ensure it is productive, safe and inviting. The checks
of ‘thoroughfare, meeting place and marketplace’
are useful indicators of a space’s effectiveness at
supporting a wide range of formal and informal
learning activities for teachers and students, and
indeed supporting life between classrooms.
Unfortunately security concerns mean implementing
this philosophy in primary and junior secondary
schools is far more difficult, but whatever the security
concern schools should never be built as isolated
Paper four / It Didn’t Work for Me, School and its Boundaries: A Case Study
It didn’t work for me: Nearing the end of primary school, my peers chose me
to be their Head Girl. I was ecstatic – my leadership
school and its boundaries. skills had obviously stood out. However, as great as it
was being a role model for the younger children to look
Too confined into blocks, up to, I couldn’t wait to progress to secondary school.
bells ringing and ticking clocks. In fact, and I should feel ashamed to admit this but I
do not as it becomes quite ironic later on, my parents
Couldn’t mix with other ages; upped sticks and moved our family to the other side
it’s just about getting good wages. of our town to make sure my younger brother Alex, 17,
It Didn’t Work for Me, School
and I were offered places in the best comprehensive
But I want to be an entrepreneur! secondary school in the borough. I thought of it as the
- what rhymes with that? opportunity I had been waiting for; the chance to meet
so many more people, from such a diverse age range –
and its Boundaries: Nothing, it doesn’t fit;
not even just a little bit.
no longer will we be the eldest.
Looking back, I settled in to secondary school well, but
A Case Study Just like me at school;
I didn’t want to be the fool.
it must have been a shock. Instead of the diverse, rich
mix of ages that I was expecting, we were immediately
segregated into our forms and year groups. We were
I wanted to learn, shown our playground space and explicitly told that
jellyellie 2009 to learn I yearn. venturing into an area allocated to a different year
group would end in punishment – litter picking or
Not just cram; detention, sanctioned by the scary deputy-head, who
was the same “lovable” teacher that would yell at you
I didn’t give a damn in the corridor and hand out a detention if your tie was
anymore a mere inch above your waist band. I wish teachers
would realise that to us, little 11-year-olds, they are
about a qualification. actually giants; shouting and getting all authoritative
I just wanted just makes us scared and hate them more, when
surely what they actually want is our respect. Anyway, I
a life-long digress – that is a thought for another paper entirely.
Even eating lunch was done in segregation; because
jellyellie, 2009 the canteens could not handle the entire school
descending on them at the same time – or at least they
As I write this, I am four months into life as a 19-year- feared this would be the case – each year group was
old. I regularly find myself reflecting on my teenage allocated an exact time when they could queue for the
years as I realise that they are drawing to an ever- canteen and sit at the tables in the dining areas. Oh,
nearing end. I’m not happy about this. 19 seems old, except for the 6th formers – they could push in front of
but 20 seems ancient. Let alone the next milestone: 21 the rest of the school whenever they felt like it. So at
mighty years. But then I look at my boyfriend James, lunchtime and breaks, the only interaction we had with
who is 21, and think that he’s not really that old. Even other ages was when the 6th formers pushed in front
with the beard. of us in the queues, thus they became the loathed 6th
formers. What a way to encourage an acceptance of
I have always looked up to older people; ever since other ages!
I was a small child, I preferred to make friends with
boys and girls even just a year older than me. When I am sure school had their reasons. Crowd control
I was at home playing with children in my street, I and anti-bullying, probably. Crowd control – that’s all
found the range of ages amongst us stimulating. Quite school really is. Surely an education should be about
simply, the younger ones could learn from the older preparing young people for everyday life in the real
ones, and the older ones learnt how to lead, teach and world, not this poor excuse. Bullying, though? They
set good role models for the younger ones. cannot be more wrong. The best way to encourage
Paper four / It Didn’t Work for Me, School and its Boundaries: A Case Study
bullying is by segregation: point out everyone’s For the first time in my life, I did not care about I was free to learn compare this to the attitude our schools better. I want to help our education system
differences, show that they are not the same as you, working hard for our upcoming SATs – what was the country has to drinking alcohol. change in ways which are positive for every child they
give them something easy to target. point? Thankfully they have now been scrapped, but and start my real- In France, it’s the norm for kids serve. School failed me. You may think that I am not
GCSEs and A-Levels haven’t, and I couldn’t imagine to have a small glass of wine a normal failure of the system, but that’s because my
My two closest friends and I were bullied at school – spending the next few years of my life restrained in
life education. Best with a family meal from an early parents were able to come up with a solution to help
not at primary school, but secondary, where we met this environment, filling my head with facts just to pass of all, I would be age. To them, alcohol is no big me. Home education is not an option for everyone:
and became friends. It was because the three of us an exam for a qualification I did not want anyway – I deal. They will enjoy it with their that is just as much a fact as it is a fact that school
had short hair and looked like tomboys – well, we wanted to run my own business, work for myself,
mixing with people family and when they become does not suit everyone. If my parents hadn’t been
were tomboys! I was not ashamed of this, and actually become the entrepreneur I had always wanted to be. of all ages. Hey, it old enough to buy it – at an age as supportive as they were, I would probably have
quite enjoyed the attention (probably another thing I School offered me nothing to help achieve this goal. younger than we are allowed ended up like a ‘normal failure’ of the system – we all
shouldn’t admit to) but my two friends didn’t feel the What was the point in cramming academic algebraic would be like the to – they may relax in a social know what I mean by that. No qualifications, multiple
same and if we had not been the strong group of three formulae to gain a piece of paper which would allow real world – no, it situation with a few glasses, exclusions and suspensions, ASBOs for disruption. I
that we were, the effect of the bullying could have me to cram some more and receive another piece of not pints. Au contraire, us teens would have been bored, frustrated, and given up on all
been far different. Our bullies were a group of girls two paper, when what I really wanted was to learn things would be the real over here don’t have that sort sense of hope.
years older than us. We were an easy target – the three that would be useful for my future: how to fill in a tax world! of exposure to alcohol. Instead,
little girls who look like boys, I suppose. Our own year return, what APR stands for, how a mortgage works, we are unleashed at the age of Instead, my mum is now an enthusiastic advocate
group didn’t bother us as they knew we were active, what happens if I fall short on my National Insurance 18 onto the clubbing and pubbing scene and, surprise for home education, and I went on to accomplish
outgoing and sporty and we had tonnes of friends. payments as a self-employed person, should I start surprise, binge drinking is rife. Schools are doing the some very fulfilling and challenging things. At the
But the other year groups did not have the chance to thinking about a pension? That is education for the real same thing. They regulate and constrain our lives so age of 15 I signed a publishing deal for my first book,
learn this. They didn’t have the opportunity to get to world: preparation for life. much that by the time we encounter the real world How Teenagers Think, an insider’s guide for parents
know us as people; to them, we were just easy targets – as early as 16 for some, or 23 for others who have about bringing up teenagers. This led to speaking
to pick on and have a bit of fun with throwing biscuits On the rare occasion that a lesson captured my done a Masters – it all seems a bit too overwhelming. engagements all around the world, where I had the
at in the toilets (which were also separate for different imagination, I felt no less frustrated – why should I Instead we should be encouraging independency, self- confidence to stand up on stage and speak to many
year groups). have to stop writing this story when I have just got motivation and self-discipline as the norm from a very different groups of people. I spoke to businesses,
Towards the end of year 9, I became into the flow of it, just because the bell sounds? You early age, just as France introduces alcohol to young giving them an inside view into teens today – and this
The teachers increasingly frustrated with school. have inspired me to write, given me the tools to do people in a responsible way. was a strand so popular that I set up jellyTeens, a
must be no less Around that time, at the age of so, and now I have started you are telling me to stop. youth insight business providing organisations with an
13, I had created a website called That is a tease. Some may argue, maybe that is a In the end, my parents removed me from school at extended insight into young people today. I spoke to
frustrated – they bluejackQ.com which demonstrated real-life education: we never have enough time for the the beginning of year 10 and we decided to follow parents, helping them get to grips with the technology
work so hard the art of bluejacking – the practice things we enjoy the most. But that should not be true. a route of autonomous home education. My mum their teens are using. Most rewardingly, I spoke to
of sending anonymous messages Especially not at school. That does not instil a sense of was petrified: she couldn’t bear the thought of me students at schools and youth enterprise conferences,
to capture our via mobile phones. Created as life-long enjoyment of learning. The teachers must be ‘dropping out’ of school and ending up destitute with inspiring them to achieve their own great successes:
a small hobby website for fellow no less frustrated – they work so hard to capture our no qualifications. My dad was excited: he took his school not compulsory.
attention, then underground phone enthusiasts, I attention, then the bell rings and it’s all undone until O-Levels through correspondence courses when he
the bell rings and was not expecting the millions of next week when they must begin again... lived on a boat in the Med’ with his family for a few
page views and worldwide media years during his teens. I was elated; my world no
it’s all undone interest the website soon attracted. My frustrations continued. Meetings with the school longer consisted of hourly chunks, segregated social
until next week I would spend an evening at home proved useless – their first suggestion was to allow me areas and unchallenging worksheets. I was free to
on the phone to CNN or being to take my ICT A-Level whilst my peers started their learn and start my real-life education. Best of all, I
when they must photographed for a full-page spread GCSE equivalent. Initially this was positive, as whilst I would be mixing with people of all ages. Hey, it would
begin again... in The Times, only to go to school didn’t really want an A-Level any more than I wanted a be like the real world – no, it would be the real world!
the next day and be shown how to GCSE or SAT result, it would stretch me more and give
create a basic spreadsheet in Excel or use the school me the opportunity to learn alongside people older I know that for some, school works: people who
internal email system. Challenging and engaging I than me. Surely not...? No, of course not – school want to be doctors need qualifications. People like
think not. The most incredulous thing was when I went soon came back and said it wouldn’t fit in with my my brother chug along OK because whilst he is a
to the school library, logged on to a computer, and GCSE timetable, so actually, very sorry, but we can’t podium racing driver, he wants to keep his academic
opened up the BBC News website as an article about offer you that option. In fact, they couldn’t offer me options open. But whilst school may work for these
bluejackQ had made their top Technology story that anything – except advising me to see a doctor as I people, there is an equal number for whom school is a
day. The librarian quickly came over and told me to may be depressed and in need of medication. Now nightmare. Luckily for me, my father is very unusual in
close the window as it clearly wasn’t school work. I this gets scary! They don’t fit in – let’s dope them up. that he is familiar with alternative education. However,
feel like writing this bit in capitals: there is more to the And this, coming from the best school in the borough if both of my parents had the usual societal view of my
world than Word documents and worksheets! This was – remember, that’s based on league table results. mother – that school as we know it is the only option
my real life education, forget stupid schoolwork! In any The better the league table labels a school, the more and you will be a failure if you don’t leave with good
case, why on earth should access to the BBC News regimented and bounded it will be. Let’s change that, qualifications – then who knows where I would be right
website be restricted? I later found out that the traffic please? now. This is not a criticism of my mother: these are the
surge to my website had caused my server to crash views she has been instilled with – however correct or
as it was so phenomenal, yet I was not allowed to Why make school so fake? I’ve never understood it. incorrect they may be – and they are the same views
witness this once-in-a-lifetime event. This example is Nowhere in the real world – and by this I mean life after that we are also instilling in young people today.
synonymous with my other frustrations at school: I felt the formal education system – are you segregated
constrained, held-back, uninspired, and questioned into age or ability groups. Work places do not have You may have gathered very early on that I am not a
the meaning my school was giving to ‘education’. bells that sound for lunch breaks and meetings. So supporter of the current school system: this is why
why set kids up for this shock? In some ways, you can I wanted to write this paper. I want to help make
Paper four / It Didn’t Work for Me, School and its Boundaries: A Case Study
... there are many Home education opened up
the boundaries that school
aspects of school created. It has given me food
for thought. And there is no
that need looking reason the principles of home
at, from age education cannot be applied
to the school environment. If
segregation to we are able to take just one of
ability segregation; the many positives and apply
it to today’s average school
from eating and environment, I am sure it would
dining spaces to have a huge impact. But as
one of my favourite sayings
playgrounds; to goes: if we aim for the stars
school bells and and miss, at least we’ll land on
the moon. So let’s not just pick
timetables; and one thing to think about; as we
so forth. Make it have explored, there are many
aspects of school that need
natural. Make it like looking at, from age segregation
to ability segregation; from
the real world. eating and dining spaces to
playgrounds; to school bells and
timetables; and so forth. Make it natural. Make it like
the real world.
For my concluding point, I’d like to clarify something.
The term ‘home education’ is actually very broad-
reaching (which, you may not know, is a point of sail
when the wind is abaft your beam – something I have
learnt through my alternative education). It is also
very misleading. The type of autonomous, real-world
education I am talking about actually has very little
‘home’ in it. It’s about getting out and mixing with real
people in the real world; learning through doing; talking
to adults, helping younger children; participating in
groups. For some, however, ‘home education’ is better
referred to as homeschooling – a more American term
suited to home educators who replicate a school
environment at home, with timetables, tutors and
worksheets. I think this is a waste of an opportunity
and totally missing the point, but again, each to their
own. I just get a bit touchy when someone suggests
I was homeschooled. I reply that no, I was home
educated – there was no school in that part of my
Paper five / Engaging the Disengaged – It’s not them it’s us
Intelligent, educated Nearly half of our young people underachieving Bart would rather write lines as a
fail to achieve at the level that punishment than be seen to un-cool.
and aspirational we expect. While five A*-Cs with
role models in the English and Mathematics at Intelligent, educated and aspirational role models
GCSE may be a blunt measure in the popular media are hard to find and less able
popular media are we must be doing something students will tend towards the less than desirable
fundamentally wrong if with examples set for them in many of the popular soaps.
hard to find and less all our ingenuity and support
able students will we cannot get young people How many schools are faced with this type of attitude
to reach this target. This is barrier? How can they deal with it?
tend towards the assuming that the examination How has the curriculum changed in the last 25 years?
less than desirable boards do not use norm Is it changing to be more or less relevant?
referencing methods which What are the drivers of this change? Who decides?
examples set for by their very nature keep the Who can we promote as role models? Why?
them in many of the C grade somewhere near the
mean of the group and thus
popular soaps. statistically the 50/50 divide will The Primary Influence
always be in place
I’m not really focusing on just schools with this The lack of engagement with school may start with
comment nor is this paper a list of answers. It attempts
Engaging the Disengaged
the primary experience and migrate to the secondary
to open the door a little wider so we can look more setting. The social pressures faced by students
carefully at some of the issues. It suggests some can significantly affect the performance of students
angles of attack. We must remember the answer is out
– It’s not them it’s us
who feel the need to conform to the norms that
there somewhere for every child. are presented to them in the home setting. This
disengagement becomes ingrained in the behaviour
What are we doing wrong? patterns of the student in many areas of their lives,
including school. Early intervention and partnership
Neil Hutchinson, WSP Edunova Are kids “too cool” for school?
Do we value learning and academic achievement?
with feeder schools through crossover days and staff
sharing can give some continuity and the joint planning
Do young people see a benefit to learning? of both discrete transition events and the transition
process as a whole can assist with avoiding the Year
Who are the 50%? Seven slump.
The able student tends to thrive despite the system In practice all students should be fully familiar with
they are placed in. The majority of the fifty percent the new school, its staff, structures and expectations,
who “fail” to meet the standard set by the DCSF as which should share common values with the primary
“satisfactory” for all students regardless of ability are partner schools at the point of transition. Bi-directional
drawn from the lower quartile of the ability range. student visits will ensure the development of friendship
When questioned, these students will tell you that groups at an early stage and those schools with a
the lessons in school and the range of subjects are house system or with a vertical tutoring model will
not relevant to them or their future needs. This belief find that the friendship groups and relationships will
is often fuelled by a lack of parental aspiration. This develop earlier. Friendship groups can be the peer
lack of support in the home can be found to be support networks that students look to throughout
caused by first or second generation dissatisfaction their whole school career. Schools can carefully
with the school system…” school never did me any socially engineer groups to ensure a good mix of
good”. Some students are too cool for school and students with solid role models being available to all. It
see education as an unnecessary evil. They do not is vital to control these groups in their early stages by
engage because they would be ridiculed by friends using the data and professional opinions of the primary
and peers. The “square” label for those who succeed teachers coupled with the research and analysis of a
is a badge many students do not want. The dichotomy transition coordinator drawn from the pastoral team
can be seen in the relationship between Bart and Lisa gained during the regular pre transition visits.
Simpson. Lisa is the square and revels in it, whereas
Paper five / Engaging the Disengaged – It’s not them it’s us
Some students will need a nurture setting to allow federations can be good vehicles for the establishment integrated into the mainstream teaching pattern and Cultural and Social barriers
them to integrate into the new school and the of mutually beneficial development groups to establish withdrawal may interrupt the flow of the learning. It
information relating to these children will be readily models of best practice, intervention activities and to may require a far higher level of partnership between Some difficulties can be found by examining the
available form the primary feeder school. Often many develop more engaging curriculum models. the adults in the teaching setting to ensure an differences in value systems within the many and
these children are in local Hard federations can provide a more permanent integrated and cohesive delivery model that is tuned to diverse cultural groups in the student population. The
authority or foster care. They arrangement within which staffing and budgetary the individual needs of each student.
To some extent are the most vulnerable and allocation can be made with more rigour. Training and CPD for Teaching Assistants is vital
division of a school can cause under-achievement
by group. The data analysis tells us that there are
schools should look need the greatest amount of to ensure that they are constantly evolving and traditionally underperforming groups and we need
Do former students return to schools to promote the
for the opportunity intervention care.in nurture
of good practice
benefits of engagement?
developing new and innovative delivery models. to address these as part of our attack on the lost
50%. The pressure on girls in some settings to not
during recruitment provision are detailed in NASEN Do current students know the increased salary How do teachers view Teaching Assistants? bother with learning can be a challenge, as can the
publications and also widely expectations of graduate employment? Do schools allow adequate time and space for
to develop available on the Web. Are students being matched to locally available careers this planning and interaction between teacher and
extended family holidays taken by some religious and
cultural groups. The low self belief and the apparently
mediators in their through training? Teaching Assistant to take place? “laid back” attitude of some groups can also have
Do secondary schools have How many schools have strong relationships with a Is there a recognised structure for TA training in the
staff and should also strong enough links with weaker or stronger local school? school?
a detrimental effect on engagement and on teacher
appraisal of effort and ability, which can lead to mis-
attempt to recruit primary schools? How are TA student interactions and outcomes setting and thus underperformance against the CVA
Is the educational career of a monitored? reference data and against the Fischer Family Trust
locally to ensure the student a continuum or a series Failure to engage with teachers data at an individual level.
community needs of stop/start journeys? The celebrity culture promotes the “it’s cool to fail/
What is the transition Students may fail to engage with the teaching staff Stage not Age Mismatch? underachieve” model and the students are exposed
are met... experience of the 50%? How do due to the mismatch between the socio economic to this all through the day via the media links of
we find out? grouping of the teachers and their own social setting. An inappropriate, age not stage setting may telephone, television and internet. Traveller children,
How is information gathered The graduate teachers appear to be “from another disadvantage the student who feels out of their need a different model to the children in LA care, who
and used at transition? planet” verbally, academically and socially. Teachers depth or under-challenged and who as a result need a different model to the children who come from
What is best practice in nurture and what does it look who do not appear to experience or empathise disengages with the curriculum in part, or in whole. abusive settings, and so on.
like in a school setting? with the students’ own background or lifestyle may Regular monitoring of data and performance
be perceived as lacking relevance to the students. will enable intervention, but the timetabling and How do schools address the needs of differing cultural
Mismatches in the ethnic, religious or gender mix curriculum modelling may need some creative groups?
Social Underperformance and can also cause division between students and their and transformational thinking to encourage the Is adequate training given in cultural awareness
Intervention Through Federations teachers. To some extent schools should look for the development of new grouping and delivery models. to ensure good understanding of traditions and
opportunity during recruitment to develop mediators Interaction with primary feeders is another factor here, practices?
Some areas have a history of underperformance in their staff and should also attempt to recruit locally because identifying early the students who are at the How can schools develop a culture of “it’s cool to
due to the low entry level provided by traditional to ensure the community needs are met, obviously extremes of need, those who require additional time achieve”?
industries such as pottery manufacture, coal mining, subject to the suitability and ability of the candidates. intervention and those who can be fast tracked is vital
manufacturing and the service industries. These These mediators would be able to develop bridges to ensuring high quality personalised learning.
industries did not have a high threshold of entry and relationships with the student most at risk of The linear model traditionally adopted in schools
level qualifications and thus whole communities can disadvantage and alienation. The local staff would be needs to be reviewed. The development of fast track,
envisage and engage in life plans which do not require able to relate to the circumstances of the students and leapfrog and consolidation groups will become the
formal qualifications or schooling. gain their trust and confidence. norm in the future and the assumption that all students
progress at the same rate in all subjects must be
Communities where long term unemployment or How many schools have a substantial number of its challenged.
working within a black/grey economy is a socially teaching and support team who were born nearby or With the new 14/19 curriculum and the potentially
accepted norm exhibit this tendency more highly. The who were educated in the area? raised school leaving age, the GCSE is no longer the
development of planned career development training How can school manage the recruitment of gender, terminal examination and as such schools will need
will start to educate this trend out of the community ethnicity and culturally balanced staff team to match to have a range of pathways for students who will
and raised aspirations caused by the input of local the student and community demographic? need to weave their way through a mix and match
champions and role models will give students the Are teachers socially aware? curriculum based on need. The timetabling used in
incentive and self belief to try to make the change. How many teachers have travelled around the further education to build a modular and evolving
catchment area of their own school to experience the courses for students will be a more appropriate model
Some schools have a tradition of underperformance living and social conditions? than the current five year plan at secondary level.
and this develops an expectation in the wider The geographically wider setting of the new diploma
community. The Academies, London Challenge and delivery model will necessitate the moving of students
National Challenge programmes are addressing Teaching Assistants between centres so will allow a greater range of
these schools and raising the aspirations locally. As accurately levelled groups to be created in the host
these programmes unfold, these schools will need Recent reports show that there is evidence that schools and as such a greater level of personalisation.
to develop partnerships with their more successful teaching assistant support may have a regressive
neighbours. This will permit change management effect on the progress of lower attaining students who How many schools have a 14/19 curriculum plan,
support and the sharing of best practice which will in they are supporting and that these students need more working with other providers in the area?
turn lead to the raising of standards and the widening engagement with a qualified teacher. Have the students been involved in its development?
off the curriculum opportunities for all students. Loose The work done with students needs to be fully How do employers view the likely portfolio of
outcomes for each student?
Paper five / Engaging the Disengaged – It’s not them it’s us
An over emphasis on the How do students find our courses? company due to the time and resource needed to
How do schools keep pace with technological change? meet the demands of work experience health and
“academic” learning? How can we develop our teaching teams? safety regulations, attendance at interview days and
Where does the VLE sit in relation to developing the needs of a full enhanced CRB check for key staff.
Teaching what we want. attainment? Making links can be a greater challenge to schools in
Teaching what we are qualified to teach. challenging settings due to the closure and drop off of
Not teaching what young people are interested in businesses in some areas of deprivation.
The straight jacket of assessment – How can schools develop an offer to business?
Students may well be failing to hit our targets because “what gets measured gets done” What do schools do that businesses want?
what we are teaching is not what they are interested What do schools do if there is little or no local
in and therefore they disengage. Many of the early Are we too focused on what is easy to measure? business, say in deprived or rural settings?
models of the Diploma courses have become hoop Do we fail to or not try to measure what’s important?
jumping exercises and a very low proportion passed
the milestones on their courses this year. The setting of the examination criteria by the
Examination Boards to meet standardised learning
Where are the “Tipping Points”
The model of teaching “what the teacher is familiar objectives can often lose the skills and experiences
with” pervades many schools and the difficulties Why do some programmes work?
gained by the students during the courses. The use
may be seen to be contractual difficulties where we Why do certain programmes seem to have a dramatic
of terminal assessments tend to give a picture of
ask people to go beyond their comfort zone or even impact – but then under deliver when scaled up or
a students performance in an alien setting usually
beyond the Burgundy Book agreements. The full rolled out more widely?
a very large hall on one day. This can be stressful
extended school is evolving in a way that will need and does not suit the full range of learning styles,
a change in working practices to meet the flexible Many schools addressing the divide and the
thus disadvantaging many students. The timing
timetables and transformational teaching and learning underperformance of a cohort of students may tend
of examinations and assessment into one block in
models. The development of VLEs will see more to fail in developing successful solutions because
the early summer is not ideal as students will be at
remote learning and learning at different times of the they start by trying to fit the solutions into a standard
different levels of development and competence.
day that we are traditionally used to. We will need timetable model.
The content of the examination can skew the
to ask more and more teachers to retrain or vary the delivery of the course causing the classic ”teaching
range and content of their courses to meet the new The activities are staffed with non specialists being
to the specification” which can remove many of he
and exacting standards being set by the DCSF and used generally to fill existing contracts of employment.
more enjoyable and engaging aspect for a variety
emphasised by student voice, together with employer They are delivered in non specialist areas with
of subjects leading to assessment led learning not
and business support. inappropriate equipment.
assessment for learning
The loss of vocational teaching centres in the late Level setting and group size can also be driven by
Do schools have assessment models to address the
60’s left a void which new vocational practice needs room, staff and time availability and the timing of
needs of all of the learning styles?
to fill. We only need to look at the success of the the intervention is not ideal due to the assessment
How can we assess all forms of learning?
technical schools or Realschule in Germany. The timetable for the wider curriculum. This combined with
How can we meet employers’ needs?
shift from manufacturing and practical employment compulsory academic courses to meet national criteria
How do we report practical and social skills?
in this country has developed the need for precision makes for a far from ideal model.
engineers and computer literate operatives serving
a mainly service based core How can schools develop a bespoke intervention plan
Working in partnership and rhetoric for these students?
The inappropriate industry. The inappropriate use of around engaging business in the Who will the staff be?
technology in learning has created
use of technology a culture where experimentation delivery of learning opportunities How will it be resourced?
and practical trialling of Will success be reported in the National Data tables?
in learning technologies is replaced with Not developing a sustainable model of mutual interest? How will it add value to the students?
has created a rote learning and regurgitation What is in it for business partners?
of set tasks, many of which are Is it more than corporate and social responsibility?
culture where undertaken out of any practical
experimentation context. Employers and businesses will invest in schools if they
This narrow use of technology can see a return on that investment. They will work to
and practical means that our courses lag behind some extent on the corporate responsibility ticket and
trialling of technology and methodology on the local partnership model if they can see a win for
changes found in industry and themselves.
technologies is the technology that students use Schools need to look at industrial partners as more
replaced with on a daily basis. The need to than providers of awards and work experience and
ensure that the latest software and enter into a dialogue possibly through the local
rote learning and hardware to at least an entry level Education Business Partnership or Chamber of
regurgitation of industrial standard are maintained Commerce to enable the identification of mutually
in school is paramount. advantageous arrangements.
set tasks... School are often seen as not offering anything but
taking everything, even to the point of costing the
Paper six / Personal Space Choice, Control, Democracy and Freedom in Schools
“For a man’s house is his castle,” explained Sir Edward of control over personal space is driven by a need to
Coke in his book on common law, The Institutes of the express autonomy in a life where many of their ‘big’
Laws of England, in 1628. At the time, this expression decisions have been, hitherto, made for them by
was used to express the popular belief that the owner their parents and others. Children typically have little
of the property had complete control over the activities control over any other space – the rest of the home is
that took place within it, and who could enter its the domain of the parents – “my house, my rules!” -
threshold. and schools are usually the domains of teachers.
For teenagers, Mankind’s history is full of the The battle is not, of course, really about space. It
struggle for personal space, and is a battle for personal rights, for democracy over
the search for an the ability to exercise control autocracy, and the ability to make some decisions
element of control over it. Land is a commodity that independently. Adults see it as rebelling, but as
both nations and people have veterinary expert David Bainbridge points out in his
over personal fought over since the neolithic- recent book, Teenagers: A Natural History, this process
space is driven by agricultural revolution, and the can be an important part of preparing for independent
right to own land - and not be life as an adult themselves.
a need to express forced to sell it by someone richer
autonomy in a or more powerful than yourself - Discussions surrounding space ownership in schools,
can be traced back to circa 2370 within the last five years, has seen increasing focus
life where many BC, in the city-state Lagash in and emphasis within new school building projects
of their ‘big’ Mesopotamia. One of history’s to move away from the ownership of classrooms by
first social reformers, King specific teachers towards more departmentally shared
decisions have Urukagina declared that “if the space. Yet this is only a partial shift in the philosophy
been, hitherto, house of a powerful man is next of who owns space; the classroom is still controlled by
to the house of a client, and if the the teacher.
made for them powerful man says to him, ‘I wish
to buy it,’ then if he wishes to sell Meanwhile, more radical philosophies have been
by their parents he will say, ‘Pay me in silver as emerging, often labelled as being a paradigm shift
and others. much as suits me,’ or ‘Reimburse from “teacher centric” space to “learner centric”
me with an equivalent amount of space. In theory, this means designing the space
barley’; but if he does not wish to sell, the powerful around the needs and requirements of the learner and
man must not force him.” learning.
Choice, Control, Democracy Our adult lives are pre-occupied by the right to
control space, from the home to the office. Many
In practice, the issue is far more complex, and there
have been few concrete examples of this that concern
and Freedom in Schools
office workers are currently struggling with this, as learning space as opposed to social space, but the
the trend in work places moves away from ‘owning’ Australian Science and Mathematics School (ASMS),
offices, cubicles or even desks towards a hot-desking designed around the principle of “learning commons”
culture, where you share space with employees and containing personal desks and storage options for
Tom Weaver, Flywheel
may work at different desks, rooms or even locations 50 pupils, is one of the most well known. Learning
every day or throughout the day. Although this has Commons are controlled by the learners themselves,
huge benefits, increasing management-employee who re-organise them based on how they need to
communication, decreasing hierarchical culture, and work, whether individually, in small groups or in large
increasing responsiveness and agility of the company, project teams, whilst still allowing for interaction with
it is often very heavily resisted, particularly in well teachers or facilitators. They have the ability to move
established, larger companies or universities where the to other Learning Commons “within minutes”.
culture of space ownership – “that desk/office belongs
to me” - is more embedded. Hellerup Skole, in Denmark, has likewise garnered
significant attention over the past years, more usually
But the battles for control often start much earlier, for its large central space, but the interesting element
with the battleground commonly set to be the teenage in terms of learning space is its home bases, designed
bedroom. For teenagers, the search for an element for 120 learners to spend all day in, and containing a
Paper six / Personal Space Choice, Control, Democracy and Freedom in Schools
“In the classroom,
not to think as
deeply, or to be as mix of informal and specialised research into learning motivation suggests that when A similar philosophy is expounded in Control Theory, All these examples, of course, are radically different
spaces in which the learners are teachers give more choice to students about what they stemming from psychiatrist William Glasser’s work to the “traditional” school, and as such their learning
interested if they in control. The first few weeks are learning, the results include “greater perceived looking at behaviour and motivation in terms of control environment – the space in which learning takes
have little to say of school commence with an competence… motivation, positive emotionality, and choice. Glasser’s work suggests a curriculum place - is also different. Yet even schools looking to
induction programme designed enhanced creativity, a preference for optimal in which “teachers must negotiate both content and implement a higher degree of democracy, choice or
about what they’re to help learners understand the challenge over easy success, greater persistence in method with students. Students’ basic needs literally learner control will also need to consider the spaces
learning or about settings they prefer to learn in and school (i.e. lower drop out rates), greater conceptual help shape how and what they are taught.” they create as a result.
for what task. They are then free understanding, and better academic performance.”
the circumstances to choose those settings – a sofa More recent examples, equally progressive, include the
in which they’re for reading, for example – as they Reggio Emilia schools, a primary focussed approach Controlling Time
complete their tasks. Controlling Content to young children with a core principle of giving its
learning it” learners some control over the direction of their Before thinking about where, it is important to think
Yet the design and the operation But what does freedom and choice actually look like? learning, resulting in a curriculum structured around about when. The timetable is one of the most
educationalist Alfie Kohn
of space is simply an outcome One of history’s most radical implementations of this projects designed with the learners. The children’s regimented aspects of external control in school life,
of a design process designed to was the Ferrer’s La Escuela Moderna, in 1901: interests determine the topics to be studied. Some dictating what spaces learners occupy at what time,
best support an educational philosophy and system. projects may last only a few weeks; others may last and even what time they should be hungry.
By focussing on the space first, it is easy to miss [It] involved a shift from emphasis on instruction to several months, and there is usually more than one
important elements about how and why this works for emphasis on the process of learning, from teaching project ongoing at a time. Projects are not planned in The purpose is benign – to maximise the efficiency of
ASMS, and more importantly it makes it significantly by rote and memorization to teaching by example and advance but instead follow the direction of the child’s the use of space – yet it is one of the first parts of the
harder to transfer concepts to another school design. experience, from education as a preparation for life to unfolding understanding and knowledge. school system that should be questioned, analysed
education as life itself. With “freedom in education” as and evolved. The timetable in a secondary school is
It is critical, therefore, to consider first why we are its watchword, this tradition aimed to do away with the Another, more secondary focused example is the usually designed to move groups of 30 pupils around
interested in giving learners more control and choice, formality and discipline of the conventional classroom, Sudbury school movement in the US, characterized as to different spaces around the school, bringing them to
then to understand what the options might be in giving the restrictions and regulations that suppressed a pure democratic school organisation. a teacher to have a class.
learners more choice and control in terms of their individual development and divided education from
learning experience. Only then can we look at design
ideas that may support that.
play.” “Sudbury school students have Ironically, giving learners more control can make things
simpler. For example, a school model like Sudbury
It cultivated physical as well as mental development, total control over what they learn, has no need of a centrally set timetable, since learners
crafts and arts as well as books. Hostile to dogma how they learn, their educational choose how they spend their time. Even when
Why Increase Learner Control of and superstition, it emphasised reason, observation, activities are more guided, such as the project based
Learning? and science, as well as independence, autonomy, and environment and how they are learning approaches of the Reggio Emilia schools,
self-reliance. Anti-coercive and anti-authoritarian, learning sessions can be more freely structured and
it stressed the dignity and rights of the child,
evaluated. They choose their flexible.
Empowering learners to have more control and choice
over their learning experience is neither a particularly encouraging warmth, love and affection in place of curriculum. They choose their
conformity and regimentation. Among the key words
new nor controversial idea, yet if implemented at all, method of instruction. They
it is often limited in scope. Most curricula are set by of its vocabulary were “freedom”, “spontaneity”, Controlling Space
teachers or politicians; pedagogy is decided by staff; “creativity”, “individuality”, and “self-realization”. choose, through a democratic
timetables are set by senior management teams.
“Accordingly, the true function of the teacher was process, how their environment This has a direct impact on space. To enable more
Despite a huge focus on learning styles in the last flexibility in time, the learner will probably need
years, true choice and control is out of reach of most to encourage self-learning, to allow each child to operates. They choose with whom more facilities closer to hand, and move around
learners. develop in his own way, rather than force a pre-
determined program of study on him. Nor should to interact. They choose if, how and less. The beneficial side effect would be cutting
demand on circulation space to move 1000+ students
This is despite the fact that this lack of educational the teacher smother the pupils under the weight of when to be evaluated - often they around every 45 minutes, potentially resulting in the
democracy means many learners are likely to switch formal instruction. The emphasis, rather, must be on reallocation of circulation space back into learning
off. “In the classroom, students tend not to think improvisation and experiment. Rigid programmes, choose to evaluate themselves.” space.
as deeply, or to be as interested if they have little curricula and timetables must be banished from the
to say about what they’re learning or about the classroom, and instruction given in a manner that will The questions then become even more challenging.
cause the least interference with the pupil’s freedom. It can be seen that the very philosophy of learner
circumstances in which they’re learning it” notes US
For if a child is not compelled to learn, his own control has ramifications on the educational system
educationalist Alfie Kohn. For example, what would the implications be of
curiosity will draw him to the subjects that interest him, in place at the school, from curriculum models, to
various curriculum models? If things are designed
and his education will be more natural and pleasant, pedagogy, to the way we group learners together,
One of the more famous researchers on motivation, around projects, problems or indeed any alternatives
more enduring and meaningful.” and even to methods of assessment. It is critical to
Edward Deci, has found that greater self-determination to subjects, are classrooms even needed?
spend significant time working out these implications
in school is often seen as linked with learning
Supporting dignity and rights of the child, even today, from first principles, before even talking about learning
outcomes, with some researchers asserting that
is a radical philosophy, and the resulting school was space. Tools such as National College’s beSpoke
a greater sense of choice and greater personal
shut very quickly and the founder executed, although a cards and planner form a useful basis for this kind of
responsibility are important avenues to attaining
movement was born that spread onwards throughout discussion.
positive learning outcomes. A summary of the
the 20th Century.
Paper six / Personal Space Choice, Control, Democracy and Freedom in Schools
The fundamental question to ask is what the learning Personal space, then, is about more than space itself.
group size you are designing space around? Is it It is about how we value the rights of learners.
fixed – for example in classes of 30 or teams of 6?
Is it completely flexible, thereby requiring a different As authors Ackoff and Greenberg point out, “Students
approach to the layout of the space? in our schools, from pre-nursery to postgraduate
levels, have virtually no individual rights. They have
Will you relinquish ownership and control over the no right of free speech, no right of dissent, no right of
space to the learners? Who decides how it is laid out peaceful assembly, no right to confront their accusers,
for a learning session? Will the learners move around no right of privacy, and so on… Equal opportunity
the school building between sessions, or the teachers? means that every student expressing a wish to pursue
Does a space belong to “physics”, or to a group of a particular course is given a chance to try it. The
learners? Can they choose the most appropriate place arguments against granting full civil rights to children
to work from? and empowering them to govern their own lives have
no basis in experience.”
Should the answers to these questions begin moving
towards more learner controlled space, perhaps the Fransisco Ferrer was shot by the Spanish state for
learner will start to require less rooms, and, instead, his attempts at educational innovation where full and
a wider variety of settings to work from. Settings can equal rights were given to the child. But the world has
be designed to suit specific purposes instead of being moved on a long way, and great leaps have already
general use. In addition, this would change the need been made towards these new approaches. To be truly
for “teacher centred” departments and faculties into learner-centred will require transformational shifts, but
something more flexible and integrated. the potential is exciting indeed.
Schools within the Sudbury system, for example,
have no classrooms or departments, but do require
specialist practical facilities to support cooking,
woodwork, etc, plus a large amount of informal
learning spaces for reading, discussions and debates.
The significant question to ask is whether we really
value the rights of the learner to be in control of their
learning experience, to include their learning space.
In an ideal world, perhaps each individual learner
would have their “own” workspace within the school,
more than a locker, and more than the old school
desks with ink wells and liftable table tops. Instead,
providing personal space to work, plan, interact and
communicate with others would be have a number of
advantages to an independent learner.
Yet as with offices, this scenario is highly inefficient
and is based on the assumption that learning in school
– even independent learning - is primarily individual.
Not so: many schools are recognising and taking
advantage of the value of collaborative learning, and
providing group controlled space, shared with other
groups, would be a better use of money.
The journey towards space should start with a deep
and meaningful discussion about values and the
philosophy of how we view the rights of the learner.
Once this has taken place, it becomes easier to talk
about the educational systems required to deliver an
experience to meet that philosophy and vision, such
as the curriculum models and timetable structure, and
only at this point can we talk about learning space.
Paper seven / xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Once our students This is a response to the TCS mean that we will need to adopt some system of
themes: ”Unlocking the power biometric identification. The question from many
have learned to in your pocket” and “Learning parents (and some students) will therefore become
master the skills Lifestyles”. In this paper we “Why do you need a fingerprint to buy a sandwich?”
discuss the role of technology
of constructing and its place in transforming So how do we engage with parents? Is this just a
an Internet search learning as well as the threat question of setting aside time to debate and educate
to organisational control within or do we just ignore their concerns and implement
query and a copy/ schools that unfettered access to the technology anyway? Can we, in fact, break
technology represents. We also down these barriers to acceptance just by applying
paste command, discuss the uneasy relationship logic and explaining the science? For example, we
have they our society has with new can explain that ‘fingerprint recognition technology’
technologies and the control, relies on a large number algorithm that has no image
mastered the art of use and access to data and how of the fingerprint on file so there is no image to
learning? this is exemplified in our school misappropriate. We can go further and explain that
communities. This paper intends the real reason for a technological solution such as a
to provoke thought and discussion and raise questions cashless catering system is that it removes the stigma
for our BSF community to discuss. from students who receive free school meals.
All our BSF schools will have increasingly powerful
Setting the scene WiFi technology, but some people are convinced that
WiFi makes them ill. With an issue like WiFi, we can try
technology meets humanity and explain the nature of electromagnetic radiation,
explain how it diminishes away from the transmission
Many of us have an ambivalent attitude to new
source according to an inverse square law. We can
technology. We like the freedom the internet gives us
share the research papers, showing double-blind
to explore and save money through internet shopping,
studies, which demonstrate that there is no cause and
but still have a sense of unease when we have to
effect on human health in a WiFi environment.
enter our credit card details for the first time on a new
website. We can marvel about the amount of data we
However, the problems that arise when people and
can fit into a memory stick and be just as surprised
technology meet will remain and this is because our
when a government agency loses our data.
responses are not always governed by logic, but rather
a large dose of fear; of the unknown; of big brother;
How many of us feel more stupid because of
of a loss of control and autonomy. In other words,
technology? Who needs to remember a telephone
just because a website has a padlock icon indicating
number when it’s on the mobile phone? What happens
a secure transaction this doesn’t necessarily make
when we lose the phone? This raises an important
someone feel secure.
question, which is, “Can we outsource our knowledge
and understanding to computers?” How worthwhile is
Switched on for Learning
the pursuit of facts when Google has all the answers?
Once our students have learned to master the skills Learning styles and devices
of constructing an Internet search query and a copy/ putting theory into practice
paste command, have they mastered the art of
Moray Watson, ICT Lead for Transforming learning? So if we accept that technology is a ‘double-edged’
sword, how do we incorporate the latest thinking on
Our new school environments will be rich in ICT devices and learning styles and incorporate them
technology, yet today many parents, teachers and into a programme of educational transformation.
governors feel ill equipped to manage young people’s Can we be at the ‘cutting edge’ without bleeding all
access to the web, to game consoles and social over the nice new school carpet? What follows is an
networking sites. Many schools routinely confiscate attempt to reconcile accepted educational theory
mobile phones. We want to give our students exciting by incorporating the kind of commonly available
facilities but also need to control access to physical technology that we can find on the high street and in
and virtual spaces at the same time. This will likely our students’ pockets. We will look at the opportunities
Paper seven / xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
brought by the capital investment in ICT to see what in a style that best suits them. An adoption of visual and which needed development. Where would that
technology we could and should use to support new technologies on this scale means any child excluded student sit within Bloom’s taxonomy of Learning
ways of learning. from a classroom for any reason (from home schooled Domains? Combined with VAK testing software
to illness) would not be excluded from a learning we could establish a meaningful starting point for
Educational theorists such as Howard Gardner have opportunity. that student’s learning journey. We could then use
described a model of multiple intelligences which technology to ‘push’ a mix of solutions to them that
maps closely to our wish to develop personalised Auditory work best for them.
learning pathways. David Kolb’s learning theory sets For any adult over 30 years old, our experience of
out four distinct learning styles - and we can all learning was primarily to sit and listen to the teacher Those that like to listen, automatically find a podcast
place ourselves on an axis of talk. With few visual aids, other than perhaps a in their inbox containing additional material relevant
ICT will bring the ‘doing’ or ‘watching’ or one of blackboard, some teachers could bring a subject to life to today’s key learning points – to listen to on the bus
‘thinking’ or ‘feeling’ with which just through the power of the spoken word. How many home or during breakfast the next day. For others
opportunity for we can feel a personal affinity students today possess an ipod type device? A cheap preferring a kinaesthetic approach it’s receiving a
students to ‘pull’ when choosing a preferred style and effective way to engage learners whose preferred hyperlink to an engaging piece of software to practice
of learning. learning style is ‘auditory’ would be to create podcasts a new skill when it suits them.
alternate resources, for students which would then just be another form of
be sidetracked, We could use the opportunity ‘subject content’ sitting on the learning platform for re- This is how we should be thinking about ICT and
that BSF gives us to plan use by many learners. personalisation. This is not about how many PCs or
to be amazed and a curriculum around these laptops or whiteboards or software licences we need.
enthused and there different preferred learning Kinaesthetic ICT should happen automatically and pervasively with
styles, tailoring our learning A learning style based on the kinaesthetic approach in little external intervention and mediation.
is little place in the pathways to enhance and many ways exemplifies young peoples’ relationships
national curriculum develop the innate intelligences with technology. This is learning by doing, by playing
of our students. ICT can with the software by practical experimentation. How Uncontrollable ICT
facilitate this approach. many young people start by reading the manual
when faced with a new technology and how many At the heart of this approach is a proposition that
Let us take a simple learning styles model such as by pressing the buttons to ‘see what happens’? schools may need to accept the need to loosen control
“VAK” (Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic) and see how How many adults remember when technology was of traditional learning models in favour of creating
we can apply a transformational ICT approach. expensive and we feared our parent’s wrath should an environment where enthusiasms will be pursued.
we break something? As adults are we equipped to In a world judged by exam league tables, it will be a
Visual understand a culture of technology based around the very brave school that can do this. ICT will bring the
In a traditional school setting, someone who idea of trial and error? In terms of school ICT we look opportunity for students to ‘pull’ alternate resources,
possesses a visual learning style will be most on capital investment as a precious resource to be be sidetracked, to be amazed and enthused and
comfortable watching what the teacher is doing. carefully made after a thorough cost benefit analysis. there is little place in the national curriculum for this.
So how could ICT support this? If we take a new BSF ICT funding is generous, so if we want to, we can How many teacher will be comfortable with students
and controversial piece of technology such as afford to buy every student in our schools a computing choosing to learn about something ‘because it is
‘Classwatch’, which is a CCTV system, marketed on device, be it a netbook, PC, an e-reader or a PDA. interesting’, when it is only tangentially connected to
the basis of effective classroom management, this the task at hand?
could instead become an effective learning tool. For The technology will continue to become cheaper and
example, we could video capture a lesson in high more powerful with new and exciting tactile devices This is a journey for our education system to take
quality and upload it to the school’s Managed Learning being developed, but what use is it if the laptop sits towards a future which is genuinely student centred.
Environment (MLE) for watching later by pupils who in a locked trolley in school overnight waiting for ICT, if we wish it to, can move us away from the
prefer to reinforce their learning by repeat viewing. Or tomorrow’s lessons. In this scenario, the kinaesthetic primacy of the teacher’s role as the imparter of
schools could use such a system to support revision learner is placed at a disadvantage because they knowledge and the school as the director and
classes. If one teacher within a school gave the best cannot access their preferred learning tool. In pilot controller of knowledge acquisition. This is a future
revision class on a topic, we could broadcast this to studies where students are permitted to take home and where personalisation is more than an aspiration to be
all students across the Local Authority area to follow in ‘own’ electronic devices provided by schools, the loss mediated via the necessities of school organisation.
high definition on their own home PC or netbook. We and breakage rates are often less than 1%. Students ICT moves us away from a culture of books as a tool
would have ‘Students TV’ rather than Teachers TV. become proud learners with a sense of responsibility to impart reflective learning and towards a culture of
when entrusted with expensive kit. Ownership should ‘immersive learning’. This immersion is found in the
It is a short step from this starting point to create reside with the user not the institution, supporting the computer games that young people play and not in
a programme guide on the Learning Platform, with users desire to learn not the organisation’s need to today’s classrooms.
ratings by pupils as to the most recommended control.
lesson (or teacher!) Why not stream video live to a Personalised learning can be ‘liberated learning’ if
smartphone or an ipod touch. If you learn best through our schools can use the opportunity that BSF ICT
watching, then surely our concern should be how to Synthesizing our approach gives them to pursue ‘Big Ideas’. BSF ICT investment
make content watchable on any device, at any time in can empower our learners by giving them access to
any place. Imagine a scenario where a student entering secondary exciting technologies and this will be transformational
school for the first time is tested – not on what they if we also choose to loosen control and adapt our
It just takes little imagination to see a piece of have learned so far, but rather on how they want to organisations to suit young peoples’ experience of
technology like Classwatch less as a means of control learn. A learner could sit a test to establish which of technology.
and more a means of liberating young people to learn Gardner’s multiple Intelligences they were strong on
Paper eight / Live, Learn, Play, Work: 2020 Learning – An Historical Perspective
In 2019 there was a digital revolution that would change felt well known, with strong adult and peer networks.
the face of retail. For over a decade e-commerce had The Learning High Street was a safe place for learners
been unable to fully challenge the physical experience of regardless of age, gender or race. The most vulnerable
shopping, but with the advent of a globalised monetary were nurtured and cared for in their learning community.
system in 2017 and pervasive personal web space,
by 2019 the ‘High Street’ was dead. Coupled with a A new professionalism existed; expanding new roles for
growing youth void that communities faced each day, adults supporting and leading learning and creating new
one community challenged the role that learning and career paths that reflected a media rich world where
education could play in the regeneration of society. professionals require greater connectedness to work in
a personalised system. Learning and teaching became
High Street shops stood empty, at the heart of their blurred as learner became the expert and assumed the
communities, boarded up and often vandalised. This role of teacher. Learning was both collaborative and
location was considered unsafe and cooperative.
Learning zones largely avoided by most people.
The residential apartments above Each space was designed to suit specific learning
emerged that shops were abandoned, as residents activities and ways learning – a diverse landscape where
were permeable sought better accommodation. By learning is versatile and reflects local culture and diversity,
2020, following a series of capital whilst embracing a global context. Arts, leisure and
and blurred investment opportunities targeting health services are collocated, celebrating local success
the boundaries VUCA communities to support them to and continually raising aspirations.
become social cities that are intensely
between public participatory and transparent, the High (Extract from TES Article, 2120)
Street was transformed.
space. By creating lightweight infrastructures So what could this all mean..?
using abandoned retail units, learning
environments of all scales emerged. A highly responsive
An interpretation in 2009
learning landscape was a short distance from where
Youth voids emerge when every day tens of
you lived; travelling by foot to a learning experience was
thousands of children and young people leave their
like popping out for a pint of milk or loaf of bread. Each
homes and communities early in the morning to
space was technology rich and celebrated the informal
make their way to a single location where they are
as well as the formal. Learning zones emerged that
kept for designated hours of activity and returned
were permeable and blurred the boundaries between
sometime during the afternoon. This creates a vacuum
public and private space. The external landscape of the
in our communities. As young people leave their
Learning High Street reflected the fluidity of the internal
communities or travel through other communities there
space, where characteristics of the inside and outside
is insufficient time for them to build a strong sense of
were mirrored in all locations and play is encouraged.
identity or belonging. This daily void removes many
creative and energetic people, who then struggle to
Each ‘Shop’ presented a learning threshold to an
connect with the other people in their community when
invitational, elective curriculum, where learning was
they return. A visit to Eton will reveal a community
unbundled and smart mobbing the norm. Every person
Live, Learn, Play, Work:
full of young people as they walk to and from lessons
carried with them a learner passport on a mobile
and make use of the community facilities surround the
device of their choice. This enabled each individual to
track and plan their learning, targeting relevant learning
2020 Learning – An Historical
opportunities. All learners understood their learning
VUCA Communities were identified in a recent
entitlement and were empowered to co-construct their
publication by the Knowledge Foundation, where
own learning pathways.
they suggested that some cities will face Volatility,
Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity in the future
The new Learning High Street was vibrant, full of
but will also be locations where opportunities for
children, young people and adults, working and learning
innovation are at their greatest. The challenge facing
alongside each other. Intergenerational and family-
VUCA communities will be to create appropriate
Darren Atkinson based learning was common place and each person
structures and systems that enable them to intervene
Paper eight / Live, Learn, Play, Work: 2020 Learning – An Historical Perspective
early and address issues of community break-down. can respond quickly to short term needs. This puts a High Street has considerable capacity for exploiting that is shaped to meet their needs. At the heart of
A particular focus on creating safe and sustainable particular emphasis on the role of furniture but also in the spaces in between. This space can provide the entitlement are the principles of inclusion; that
communities will be critical in tackling extreme cases the nature of lighting and temperature control. An agile additional capacity for reflection or small discussion; every child and young person, regardless of ability,
of diversity with regards to health, social cohesion, and lighting system would enable a teacher or student to space to pause and talk to friends or prepare for age, economic circumstance, race, gender or family
values. control subtle changes in lighting, perhaps highlighting the next learning experience. This might require background are given the opportunity, support,
one part of the learning space for display or dimming considering how to address the use of a space that encouragement and means with which to engage fully
Lightweight infrastructures consist of elements that one area to enhance a presentation. is infrequently populated but when it is the space is in their education.
are locally relevant; flexible and mobile in use and intensively active.
coordinated in distributed manner. This might include Technology rich is much more than the computing Learning pathways are broad and varied and have
public access to broadband and wireless connectivity; hardware that is often what is currently referred to as An invitational, elective curriculum places the the potential to enable young people to pursue both
affordable personal devices; and family based support ICT. It encompasses a broad collection of functionality, needs of learners at its heart. Learner voice and academic and vocational route ways to employment
services. They enable systems managers to target hardware, software and infrastructure. In schools it learner choice are critical principles that underpin a and make a positive contribution to their communities.
community services in a responsive manner. These is often shaped by the technology of now rather than curriculum of this nature. This curriculum may be more
lightweight infrastructures are an essential element of the future and the myth of ‘industry standard’. like a catalogue, where guided choice is the norm and Intergenerational and family-based learning is
of enabling communities to be more resilient to Young people are teachers demand highly reliable and inquisitiveness and enquiry encouraged. a core component of the learning that takes place
change. In education terms this will translate into a robust systems, with responsive support services. The outside of school in libraries, museums and sports
system where new technology is used to create an range of devices available to young people should Learning thresholds are the groups, where adults and young people learn
point where the learner passes
agile system that is more responsive to the needs of not be considered in terms of ratios, with 1:1 being Never before in into a learning experience. This
alongside each other, often interchanging the roles of
individuals and families. the perceived ideal. Many people now travel with a teacher and learner.
number of devices, as discernible users – this might history have so many is traditionally the classroom,
Social Cities are the result of urbanised communities with the threshold being Nurtured and cared for young people require a strong
embracing the values of participation and
include a mobile telephone; a leisure device such young people been managed by the class teacher.
as MP3 Player or hand-held game unit; a mobile adult network surrounding them to ensure that they
transparency. In communities where this is embedded computing device such as a laptop or netbook. With able to communicate By considering retail space, are both well known and understand their personal
there is both collective responsibility and collective so many devices, and with the rate of development so especially on the High Street, strengths.
action in response to societal challenges. By operating fast, young people need to be given opportunities to
and work together a wide range of thresholds
as a cooperative system, communities are more both access a range of devices as well as to unlock than now. Whether emerge, that entice the A new professionalism could emerge where
resilient to extremes of change and can respond with the potential of the devices in their pockets. customer to enter. Be this the professional adults who work with young people,
speed and efficiency to local, national and global this is through formal window display, the branding in all aspects of their learning adopted new roles.
issues. This is typified by well developed public Informal as well as the formal learning experience on-line mediums of the shop, boards outside, A more connected media rich world has already
networks that exploit positive social and community needs to be fully explored and understood. The smells or sounds. The learning seen an explosion of new roles and employment
resources that are underpinned by a values framework deep value of the curriculum that is often referred that encourage threshold should be a sensory opportunities in society. The same is possible in the
that encourages the development of social capital. as ‘hidden’ is recognised by many professionals as participation in experience that motivates the education sector. In their ‘Map of Future Forces’, the
having a profound impact on the learning lifestyles learner to cross the boundary Knowledgeworks Foundation suggest that such roles
Learning environments of all scales can be realised of young people. There is little structured time given cooperative problem into the learning experience. might include content experts, learning coaches,
through unlocking the capacity in retail space located to this component and in a climate of perceived tight solving tasks or Unbundled education and
network navigators, cognitive specialists, resource
on empty High Streets. It would be time scales for delivering content to learners, informal managers, or community liaison officers. We are
It is essential for feasible to consider learning spaces learning is not often considered a priority. informally through smart mobbing occurs when already seeing some of these roles in our schools and
in retail places given the range of groups of people meet without
many learning unoccupied retail space currently in
‘mash-ups’ and other an formal organisation. Rather
it raises questions about the focus of the professional.
Permeable sites enable people to access learning In a knowledge rich economy there could be a greater
situations that our town centres and high streets. environments that are safe and secure without being multimedia. than accessing learning need for roles that compliment subject expertise and
This ranges from small ‘boutique’ fortresses. If a school is making it facilities available through a formal channel, might focus on the skills of educators to facilitate,
the environmental units to large units the like that to local communities then this is traditionally achieved many adults are already forming groups around “free work collaboratively and guide learners.
is agile and can ‘Woolworths’ once occupied. ‘out of hours’ when pupils have gone home. There access” space to learn and socialise. This is evident in
Apple Stores have transformed are an increasing number of schools who are trying young people too. In Croydon a group of Young People Collaborative and cooperative learning is a growing
respond quickly the shopping experience for its to blend the hours of learning and find appropriate meet spontaneously in the Queen’s Gardens to dance. trend in UK education. Whether it is through informal
They make no formal arrangements, and colonise the
to short term customers. There is no ‘checkout’, ways of managing adults on a schools site. For many
space with a laptop and two speakers.
local networks based around subjects or delivering a
no queues and browsing (retail young people, being in the company of adults is not an policy such as the 14-19 curriculum or through more
needs. exploration) is encouraged. The unusual occurrence, in places such as museums and formalised national networks such as the Specialist
Apple Store provides a range of shopping centres. The context of a learning high street Learner passports could be an essential part of the Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT); educators are
settings with a wide range of their electronic products the boundaries are further blurred. tool kit that a young person would require to make working together more than ever. This is particularly
available to hand. These are ‘tethered’ to bench or their learning personal to them. This passport could challenging in a climate of rich competition between
surface without seeming restrictive to use. A media Blurred boundaries exist to allow adults and young be a virtual record of their achievements, ambitions schools. We should perhaps take a lead from young
learning space could make use of many of the features people learn alongside each other. Currently schools and skills. Accessible on-line and through a range people. Never before in history have so many young
of this particular retail space and could be located on a create structures and systems that separate adult and of devices, young people would be able to record, people been able to communicate and work together
High Street or a Town Centre without requiring a large youth learning to ensure that each young person is capture and document their progress at any time and than now. Whether this is through formal on-line
unit. safe. These formal structures do not represent other carry this to another location. It would be possible to mediums that encourage participation in cooperative
public services, such as public libraries or shopping share this with their family or their learning guide or a problem solving tasks or informally through ‘mash-
Responsive learning landscapes consist of a variety malls, where adults and young people can be in each future employer. Assessment could be more immediate ups’ and other multimedia. Young people are authoring
of physical, virtual and humanistic parts and are other’s company without creating issues of security. and reflect the philosophy of progressing by ‘stage material, peer reviewing, improving and adapting each
interrelated such that subtle changes to one aspect Fluidity is connectivity between one space and other. not age’. other’s work often independently of schools
do not compromise the others. It is essential for many Schools traditionally have poor spaces in between, Learning entitlement ensures that every young and adults.
learning situations that the environmental is agile and that is mainly corridor space. Civic space such as the person and child has the access to a learning offer
Paper eight / Live, Learn, Play, Work: 2020 Learning – An Historical Perspective
A Diverse landscape contains many forms of learning What does all this mean to you?
space. The lexicon of the last 100 years in schools has
been the classroom. Many people are now questioning The future is not certain. There are many people
the role of the classroom as a venue for learning in the theorising about the shape of the education system
21st Century. Schools are often now defining spaces in the future and there are many emergent trends that
according to the activities that might take place there; may educators will recognise elements of from the
using language such as ‘touchdown’ to describe a past (project-based learning anyone?). Large scale
space to work independently in; or ‘studio’ to describe capital projects, the like of Building Schools for the
a space that encourages creative exploration in Future, provide schools with a chance to imagine what
subjects such as science, art and D&T – this might the future could be like and to establish strategies that
even be a shared space between three or more will enable them to shape their future.
subjects. Each diverse space has a specific function.
This paper contains no answers but merely seeks to
Versatile learning environments can support a wide provoke your thinking into what might be possible
range of learning activities. It is critical that learning and in particular to consider where learning might be
activities are match so that they compliment each organised in the future.
other with regards to the design performance of the
space. This is what Professor Stephen Heppell refers
to ‘mutuality’. Many schools are currently grappling If we were not to revitalise the
with how to “sweat the asset” and make the most
of the building resource they have. This often means
High Street for learning; to create
certain spaces in schools can be used a variety learning spaces in retail places,
of purposes and other spaces provide very little
opportunity for “multi-plexing”
then consider what elements of a
re-imagined High Street we might
The school hall and dining space are two examples of
spaces that in recent design have been considered as apply to our vision of the future.
versatile space; where more that one purpose can be
achieved. A school hall may host a range of activities
from performance, to presentations, to sports and to
exams. Many dining spaces are only used for dining,
yet might offer opportunities for both formal and
It is critical to recognise that certain activities will
complement each other in some spaces. Large
volumes, like halls, are particularly good for activities
that require lots of movement, or loud messy activities;
they tend to have hard, resistant surfaces. This
type of space is not ideal for small group work, or
quiet reading. Unless there is a significant design
intervention to make the large space into small ones.
The large volume does not lend itself well to quiet
The dining space is often overlooked due to the
challenge of preparing for lunches and breaks. With
an agile furniture solution it would be possible to
provide a number of unique learning settings that
could be used both formally and informally. Versatility
can also be considered in any location where there is
potential for a variety of activities to occur, the science
laboratory is an example of a formal space that
supports many activities; experimenting to role play to
documenting. Certain design features make some of
these activities a challenge to deliver. They might be
better supported elsewhere.
References and further reading Author Biographies being described in the national media as “the best designers
Paper three / in Ireland”. His work with children in a primary school was
Paper two / Dr Tim Rudd also recently featured in the Times Education Supplement as
Nair, P, Fielding, R and Lackney, J (2009) The Language of Tim is a Senior Researcher with Futurelab’s Research and an example of how educational practice can be transformed.
Selected further reading/ videos: School Design (Second Edition), Design Share, MN Development Team, working and advising on a range of At the other end of the spectrum, he recently worked with
research projects, written outputs and events. He has the National University of Ireland to design an international
Design: Gehl, Jan (1987) Life Between Buildings, Danish Architectural specialised on projects and written outputs relating to centre for social gerontology. This new centre will allow
“Think! Before it’s too late”, by Edward de Bono Press, Copenhagen personalisation, learner voice and entitlement, home-school- academics and their stakeholders to co-design new training
community links and personalisation. He is currently leading and policy solutions for the elderly using a mix of traditional
Cut: Jacobs, Jane (1961) The Death and Life of Great American on Futurelab’s ‘learning spaces’ programme, and a range of and innovative practice.
www.unlimited.school.nz Cities, Random House, NY educational technology research and development projects
within Futurelab. He also runs a number of innovations Sean is in constant demand as a consultant and speaker
Colour: Free Play Network (website) HYPERLINK “http://www. workshops, demonstrating a range of techniques and tools. all over the world. In August 2008 he was one of just six
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education- freeplaynetwork.org.uk” www.freeplaynetwork.org.uk people chosen by Cisco Systems to become a member
news/institutionally-racist-report-tells-how-black-children- Prior to his current post Tim was head of Evidence and of their international ‘edu-swarm’. Other major speaking
are-being-discriminated-against-in-schools-427859.html Research at BECTA where he worked on a range of policy engagements in the past three years have included the
Paper eight / related projects and programmes relating to research into keynote address to the top 250 business leaders in New
http://www.teachers.tv/video/5456 - Black and Ethnic ICT and education. Previously he gained his doctorate whilst Zealand, the keynote for the ‘learning for the future’ section
Minority Leadership. Trial by Headship Bakhtin, M. M. (1981) The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. studying at the University of Bristol, focusing on ICT and the of the NAHT annual conference, a carbon neutral conference
Trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin and reproduction of social inequalities. by the Home Energy Conservation Alliance and workshops
“Outliers: the story of success”, by Malcolm Gladwell London: University of Texas Press. in Singapore for the Ministry of Education and Infocom
Bourdieu, P. (1991). Language & Symbolic Power, Harvard Development Authority.
Carat: University Press, 1991; paperback edition, Polity, 1992 Sean McDougall
http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/RR346. Bourdieu, P. (1992). An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology with Sean McDougall is MD of Stakeholder Design, an
pdf - Estimating the Cost of Being “Not in Education, Loïc Wacquant, University of Chicago Press and Polity, 1992. international design agency that helps clients transform their Prakash Nair and Annalise Gehling
Employment or Training” at Age 16-18, by Social Policy Bourdieu, P. (1998) Practical Reason: On the Theory of Action, education and public service provision. Prakash Nair is a partner with Fielding Nair International, an
Research Unit, University of York Stanford University Press award-winning school planning firm with consultations in
Den Besten, O., Horton, J. And Kraftl, P. (2008) Pupil Sean was a founder member of the UK Government’s 26 countries. Nair is widely published and has served as a
Clarity: involvement in school (re)design: participation in policy and Schools Design Advisory Council, which was set up to consultant to governments, private schools and professional
http://www.mediafire.com/file/omwqhzi9zwd/Wolverhampton practice. CoDesign. Vol. 4, Issue 4 December 2008 pp197- oversee the Building Schools for the Future and Academies organisations throughout the world. He lives in Tampa,
v3.wmv – A ‘not like us’ study tour organized by the author. 210. programmes. Shortly after establishing Stakeholder Design he Florida.
was appointed to work on Project Faraday, a UK government
Types of design Hart, R (1992). Children’s participation: from tokenism to initiative to conceptualise and design the next generation of Annalise Gehling is an Associate with Fielding Nair
Architecture/ Building design citizenship. Innocenti Essays No 4. New York: UN ICEF science learning environments. Outputs from this programme International and has served as a consultant in seven
Co-design Humphries, P. (2009). Fountaineers: Exploring the impact of a included new approaches to learning, a series of super-labs countries. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Concept design whole-school co-design project. Futrelab, Bristol and a ‘Knowledge Garden’ that can recycle all water on site
Drug design http://www.futurelab.org.uk/resources/documents/project_ while providing a haven for wildlife and rare plant species.
Experience-led design reports/Fountaineers_case_study2.pdf Several of these are now being built at a school in Wigan. jellyellie
Fashion design 19-year-old provocative author and entrepreneur jellyellie,
Food design Laurillard, D. (2008). Digital technologies and their role in Prior to establishing Stakeholder Design, Sean was Campaign heralded by The Guardian as “the voice of the MSN
Games design achieving our educational ambitions. Inaugural Lecture, Leader for Learning Environments at the UK’s Design generation”, has been a prominent figure in the media from a
Graphic design London Knowledge Lab. Institute of Education. http://www. Council. His worked showed how good design can radically young age.
Industrial design lkl.ac.uk/cms/files/jce/presentations/laurillard-inaugural- improve educational outcomes. The process of facilitated
Interaction design 20080226.ppt user-led design that he helped to create allowed teachers At 13 she created hit website bluejackQ.com, the world’s first
Landscape design Miliband, D. (1984) Choice and Voice in Personalised and students to co-design their own outcomes, supported and most cited website about bluejacking. bluejackQ, with
Packaging design Learning. Speech by David Miliband, Minister of State rather than led by specialist suppliers. Outcomes from the over 6 million page views, took the international media and
Process design for School Standards. Innovations Unit, OECD, Demos campaign included new types of furniture, 360 degree flexible academia world by storm.
Product design Conference. May 18th 2004, London classrooms, new approaches to teaching and learning, a new
Service design Piore, M. J., and Sable, C. F. (1984). The second industrial magazine on educational renewal and the Designmyschool. At 15 jellyellie signed her first publishing deal for How
Sound design divide: Possibilities for prosperity. New York: Basic Books. com prototype. Teenagers Think, an insider’s guide for parents about bringing
System design Piore, M. J., and Sable, C. F. (1985). The second industrial up teenagers. The book has been highly praised by both
Transport design revolution. INC., 7, 25-48. He is now internationally acknowledged as a pioneer in the teenagers and parents, is a Top 40 Amazon bestseller, and
User-centred design Woodcock, A. (2009). Defining opportunities for children’s field of co-design and stakeholder engagement. He works has numerous foreign rights deals.
User-led design participation in school design. Paper presented at the extensively with marginalised communities and believes that
Universal design (accessibility) 4th Annual Access and Integration Conference, Coventry all stakeholders are capable of making and implementing At 17 jellyellie set up jellyTeens, providing organisations with
Web design University, March 2009. complex design decisions: his work with Travellers, an insight into today’s young people. She also speaks at
recovering addicts and recent immigrants in Cork led to them conferences around the world to businesses, students and
jellyellie is a keen sailor and lives aboard S/Y Milestone in Moray is always trying to keep up to date with the rapid pace
Portsmouth Harbour with her boyfriend James. change in ICT and understand the ‘new tools’. His current
areas of research involve cloud computing and ‘device
entitlement’ for students.
Prior to entering the teaching profession Neil gained Moray.email@example.com
substantial practical experience in major Civil Engineering t: 07957 355485
works as a senior technical officer. Moving into teaching Twitter: @bsfmoray
in 1990, he promoted through middle leadership roles
into senior leadership where Neil was involved in the
establishment of a new Church of England school, leading a Darren Atkinson
collaborative group of five challenging inner city schools and Darren joined the Transforming Croydon Schools Team in
associate headship of a school as it prepared to become a April 2009 to lead the Service Transformation Workstream.
new Academy. Neil completed his NPQH and MA in parallel, An ambitious joint BSF programme, Darren also provides
entering Headship through the NCSL Trainee Headteacher strategic advice to RB Kingston.
programme. As a Headteacher in Staffordshire, he was
successful in preparing and submitting a bid for Science For the last five years he has worked on a wide range of BSF
specialist status and doubling the Year Seven intake of his related transformational projects supporting the private sector
school over a two year period. Neil has authored GCSE in bidding for over £2Billion school capital building projects
specifications and has developed on- line testing materials. and supporting the public sector by working in partnership
Recent consultancy work has encompassed supporting with schools, Local Authorities and Academies to explore
the BSF process and taking a lead in the final submission approaches to transformation; develop Strategies for Change;
presentations. Neil has worked with client side design create operational solutions in response to vision statements;
advisers, architects and the wider stakeholder group to and translate these into organisational models, learning
provide educational transformation guidance for BSF and environments and ICT solutions.
Academy projects across the country. Neil is currently
working with a group of schools developing School Change Darren has also led transformation projects across all aspects
Management strategies based on Learning Led Design. of school organisation, curriculum, environments and ICT,
most recently as lead education advisor for the White Design
Consortium in Project Faraday, a DCSF commissioned
Tom Weaver research project to develop exemplar designs for science
Tom Weaver is a design strategist and the Managing Director learning spaces. Prior to this Darren worked in complex
of Flywheel, focussing on creating knowledge economy urban schools for 10 years; his last role as a faculty leader in
environments in the educational and commercial markets. the first city Academy.
He has a strong background within the learning sector, having In his most recent role at DEGW he supported 27 schools in
previously created and run DEGW’s school environments Wolverhampton and 12 schools in Blackpool as Client Design
team, been the head of business development for educational Advisor and was Strategic Lead for DCSF’s latest research
consultancy Bryanston Square. He created Flywheel in 2008. project, Space for Personalised Learning; an ambitious 30
month commission from the DCSF to explore how learning
He is currently the lead consultant for the DCSF’s Space can be personalised and examine the implications for design.
for Personalised Learning project, on behalf of DEGW, and
was previously the lead consultant and project manager of firstname.lastname@example.org
DEGW’s Project Faraday team, spending a year working t: 020 8726 6000
with two schools and the Department for Children, Schools twitter: @BSFDarren
and Families to rethink the way science accommodation
should be designed. He also wrote and managed Changing
Boundaries, for NCSL, a change management toolkit recently
nominated for the RIBA President’s Award for Research
2008, and recently created the NCSL beSpoke toolkit and
Moray Watson is currently the ICT work stream lead for
Croydon and Kingston’s BSF programme. Before that, Moray
spent 18 months as a professional advisor in the DCSF
developing BSF ICT policy and practice. His previous work
in education encompasses assignments for the TDA and
DFES. These included work on Gifted and Talented initiatives
both nationally and for London Challenge. Moray has worked
primarily as a consultant and procurement specialist on
public sector IT and service contracts for the last ten years,
including work for HMRC and DTI. Before Moray’s IT career,
he worked for a large housing association and three local
authorities over ten years, developing solutions for homeless