Friday, March 29, 2013

The Shape of Schools to come

Yesterday I was one of a group of councillors taken on a tour of the new North Shore Academy.  The school holds a particular interest for me, not just as the first completely newly built secondary school in the borough for a number of years, but also because one of the schools which closed to form the new academy was the one at which my husband had been among the first to gain his school leaving certificate shortly after it opened as Roseworth Secondary Modern School.
Main hall & dining space
Something like 40 years later the old school has seen its last pupils.  The furniture is being moved into the new building and after an extended Easter break of 3 weeks the staff and pupils will follow it.
Gym, with mirror wall
School design has come a long way in 40 years.  This school has no hidden corners where errant pupils can avoid supervision.  I has a huge ground source heat pump to warm the building via radiators in winter and a large array of photovoltaic cells on the sports hall roof to provide some of the electricity needed.  Although the school is very well insulated and will not need a lot of gas to top up the heating it will need a great deal of electrical power to feed all the computers and other technology.  Every teaching space has the facility for using laptops or desktop computers.  White boards are screened from the sun so that they can be better seen.  CCTV watches staircases and open spaces even when teachers are otherwise engaged.  There are big open areas as well as individual classrooms so that staff can choose the best environment for the kind of lessons they are teaching.  There's a wonderful technology suite with up to the minute woodworking tools and machines.  There's drama space and a recording studio, a music suite and comfy dining area.  Certainly people can't blame the building if teaching and learning doesn't happen.
Adjoining the school is MyPlace, the youth and community centre for the borough.  People using that area during the day are securely locked out of the school, but the school can use parts of it and securely lock out the public.  In fact it's hard to tell which parts of the building are for community use and which are solely for the school's use.
I'll be interested to go back in 2 or 3 years' time to see how the spaces are actually being used, as opposed to how the architects think they'll be used.

No comments: