Kingsdale Foundation School

Future Schools: Transforming Learning Through Design

As of January 2016, there were more than 8 million pupils attending over 23,000 schools across the UK. This growing number has long caused concern over class sizes amongst industry experts, but many of the country’s largest schools have seen their GSCE grades steadily improve over recent years.

Some have proposed that improving grades are due to an increase in the number of subjects on offer or recent improvements to the exam process. However, many studies suggest a significant factor behind the improvement of the country’s most troubled schools is their environment. Futuristic redesigns have transformed some state schools into futuristic learning hubs attracting thousands of applications from hopeful parents every year. The achievements of Kingsdale Foundation School and similar success stories highlight the potential impact of futuristic school design on learning,

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Encouraging Learning with Design

The improvement of secondary school grades has long been approached from the angle of resources and teaching, but a recent study has revealed that the design of a classroom could affect the academic success of a child over a year by up to 25 per cent. Based on a year-long study of 751 pupils, carried out across seven primary schools, research conducted by the University of Salford School of the Built Environment, revealed that 73 percent of the variation in pupil performance at class level can be explained by building environmental factors.

These results have been reflectedin a similar study conducted by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), which found that 90 per cent of teachers believe well-designed schools enhance grades and student behaviour. The study also highlighted the effect of school design on teacher satisfaction, noting that one in five teachers have considered leaving their position over school conditions. Motivated by the apparent impact of design on pupil performance, the government responded to research with the introduction of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) Programme, which was announced by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2004.

The BSF Programme

Tasked with “renewing the secondary school estate”, the BSF Programme was a £55 billion project that aimed to rebuild or refurbish each of the 3,500 secondary schools in England by 2020. Upon the project’s launch, government suggested the BSF marked a step-change in children’s education, providing inspirational buildings that were fit for 21st Century learning.

Former Education Secretary Michael Gove eventually scrapped the programme in July 2010, but not before it had overseen the refurbishment of 178 secondary schools. The majority of the schools that have undergone refurbishment through the project have had their learning transformed by a central focus on building a greater sense of school community. Featuring grand atriums, busy ‘streets’ and naturally-lit walkways, many of the schools are designed to lead all pupils back to a building’s chosen hub, where much of the community atmosphere is centred.

Notable Future Schools

One of the biggest success stories of the BSF Programme is that of Kingsdale Foundation School, which has grown into one of the most popular and successful secondary schools in London and indeed the UK. Built as a London comprehensive in 1958, Kingsdale has undergone an extensive £30 million redevelopment project as part of BSF, and in 2010 it was named an outstanding academy convertor school. Some of the school’s most significant features include a generous central atrium, aerial walkways and the world’s largest “variable skin” ETFE roof enclosure, which surpassed even the Eden Project in its size. Following its redesign the school has also celebrated significant academic success, and in 2015 it was named the top performing state school in the London Borough of Southwark.

Elsewhere in the world, similar initiatives inspired by research into the power of school design have also resulted in award winning projects. The Råholt Secondary School has become one of Norway’s most notable academic success stories, earning worldwide acclaim for revolutionising the methods used to teach pupils. Although famous for its three brightly coloured towers, the school’s most significant change is its new village design, which leads pupils around the school using main streets, open squares and gardens. In contrast, the Ørestad College in Copenhagen has focused on spiralling staircases and learning zones lined with orange beanbags to encourage flexible, open learning. The school was also designed to promote more independent learning, as well as team or group teaching.

Designing the Future?

Although government officials continue to question the efficacy of futuristic school design on the success of pupils, global success stories highlight the potential impact of such projects on grades. Kingsdale Foundation School is just one example of a school that has evolved through design to become a hub of learning and success, and could perhaps prompt the start of a new era for UK school design focused on forward-thinking community learning.

Kingsdale Foundation School – Progressive and Inspiring

The job of a school is to educate young people.  State secondary school Kingsdale Foundation School in Dulwich knows, however, that imparting academic knowledge is only part of its role.  To succeed in life, children need to leave school as young adults prepared to meet the many challenges of the adult world.  Kingsdale Foundation School takes this aspect of education as Kingsdale Foundation schoolseriously as the rest, and seeks to inspire its students throughout their time at the school to be the best they can be as people, not just as students.

Kingsdale Foundation School views itself as a community, not just a school.  This is an important distinction, as it makes reference to the learning environment as a whole.  Kingsdale Foundation School set out to create and maintain a stimulating space in which students can learn.

Values, behaviour, hard work and dedication are vital, but the overall success of an educational establishment like Kingsdale Foundation School can be massively enhanced by the right physical environment.  When Kingsdale Foundation School underwent an architectural regeneration in the early 2000s, the senior management staff worked closely with the designers.  Together they thought outside the box, and dared to imagine a learning space for Kingsdale Foundation School that was unlike any other seen in the UK at that time.

The new Kingsdale Foundation School buildings were designed to create a sense of belonging and purpose for students within the school itself, but also to accord a sense of ownership to the wider community outside of the Kingsdale Foundation School gates.  Kingsdale Foundation School wanted to embrace and explore the interrelationship between the social and the built environment, and use this to create a school where educational achievement could be maximised for every student.

This dynamic new approach for the school has contributed greatly to the way in which Kingsdale Foundation School has transformed itself in recent years.  In the mid-1990s, Kingsdale Foundation School required significant physical improvement.   By 2010, it had become a learning environment in high demand due to its impressive academic performance, high standards of behaviour, and an atmosphere of deep respect that permeates the very fabric of the school.

Kingsdale Foundation School is rightly proud of its achievements, and continues to push the boundaries of educational excellence into the future.

Kingsdale Foundation School – Challenging Convention

Kingsdale Foundation School has been a fixture in the London borough of Dulwich since it opened its doors in 1958.  Designed by architect Leslie Martin, the original Kingsdale Foundation School buildings held strong for fifty years.  By the end of the 1990s the ravages of time, and of continual use by demanding students had taken its toll, and the Kingsdale Foundation School infrastructure was creaking. This was a problem that had to be addressed.

Kingsdale Foundation SchoolIn the early 2000s, he led Kingsdale Foundation School into a dramatic period of redevelopment under the government’s Building Schools for the Future programme.  Kingsdale Foundation School was the pilot project for the programme.  This meant that it carried the risk of uncertainty of success, but also the benefit of having a blank canvas from which the architects dRMM could work.  There was no model of redevelopment for Kingsdale Foundation School to follow.  The designs at Kingsdale Foundation School would be the ones to set the tone for the future.  It was an exciting time.

The aims of the redevelopment initiative were not only to build a great new school on the Kingsdale Foundation School site, but also to ensure that the design selected would actively contribute to the creation of a stimulating and nurturing learning environment for Kingsdale Foundation School students.  It had been recognised that the built environment could have a significant impact on the way in which children learn, and on their behaviour.  At the time of the redevelopment, Kingsdale Foundation School was busy redefining its standards of behaviour and striving to improve its academic performance. The old buildings were working counter to that effort, and it was hoped that the new designs would change that.

Architects dRMM created a new design for Kingsdale Foundation School that captured the very essence of the old Kingsdale Foundation School.  This blended seamlessly with bright, open new elements that lifted the atmosphere within Kingsdale Foundation School and created an environment that is wholly positive. The major part of this transformation was in the construction of an impressive transparent roof structure that spans the previously open quadrangle between the main Kingsdale Foundation School buildings.

This new covered atrium has revitalised the old, dark structure, and opened it up to make the heart of Kingsdale Foundation School a light communal space that simply invites respectful communication and collaboration.  With its new buildings, and the continued hard work and dedication of staff, Kingsdale Foundation School has transformed itself into a vibrant school that is now oversubscribed and truly fit for the 21st century.

Kingsdale Foundation School – David Cameron suitably impressed

Kingsdale Foundation SchoolIn May 2011, Kingsdale Foundation School received a surprise visit from a very special guest. Students and teachers had prepared themselves for a mystery visitor, but when British Prime Minister, David Cameron arrived many couldn’t believe their eyes. Mr Cameron was at Kingsdale Foundation School to see for himself the remarkable transformation the school had undergone academically. The Prime Minister described Kingsdale Foundation School as “brilliant” and commended the hard work of both staff and students alike.

The Prime Minister’s visit is a direct reflection of the turnaround that has occurred at Kingsdale Foundation School over the years. The school literally transformed in the space of ten years to the highly popular and over subscribed school it is today.

Kingsdale Foundation School today boasts excellent musical facilities and its state-of-the-art music block was officially opened in 2008 by British jazz legend Courtney Pine. The ceremony saw a plethora of musical entertainment and Mr Pine praised the school for investing in its students’ musical futures. He highlighted that no such facilities were available to him as a child and they would undoubtedly encourage pupils to excel musically. Kingsdale Foundation School was given special musical and drama status in 2005 and the new music block shows that it is living up to its commitment to provide students with the best facilities possible.

Kingsdale Foundation School’s remarkable turnaround saw it ranked as the most popular school in the Borough of Southwark in 2011 based on applications. With more than 7 students competing for its available places, Kingsdale Foundation School continues to be an extremely popular choice amongst parents and students. It currently admits pupils aged 11 to 19 and is classed as a mixed secondary school with ‘academy’ status. Its sixth form allows students to study for A levels in a range of subjects, as well as post-16 scholarships in mathematics and performing/creative arts.

Kingsdale Foundation School – The Numbers Speak for Themselves

Mathematics is a core subject in our education system, and numbers are important in every aspect of life. For a school such as Kingsdale Foundation School numbers are key when it comes to exam results, and demand for places. Kingsdale Foundation School Kingsdale Foundation Schoolis proud to count itself amongst the number of highly oversubscribed schools.

Kingsdale Foundation School regularly receives more than seven single applications for every place available on its roll each year. This places Kingsdale Foundation School in the top percentage band of desirable educational centres in the UK. Considering that there are in excess of 3000 secondary schools across England alone, for Kingsdale Foundation School to achieve this status is no mean feat.

With the economy being squeezed at every turn, some parents who may previously have elected to pay for private education for their children are seeking alternatives within the state system. This is helping to boost demand for places at the likes of Kingsdale Foundation School, a secondary school that has an excellent local reputation and a recognised specialism in the Performing Arts. Kingsdale Foundation School has fought hard to establish its current reputation as a dynamic and highly successful learning environment.

Since opening in 1959, Kingsdale Foundation School has experienced its share of highs and lows.  By the late 1990s it was in need of physical reinvestment and in just a few short years, through the hard work of the school community and stakeholders, Kingsdale Foundation School had transformed so extensively that it was indeed deserving of its place at the top of the parental wish-list.

Kingsdale Foundation School is fiercely proud of its ethos that every child matters, and deserves the chance to succeed in their own way. Students are Kingsdale Foundation School feel valued and supported.

The success of Kingsdale Foundation School is proof that the right support and attitude, young people can achieve great things irrespective of their background. This is an important life lesson.  Numbers matter, but Kingsdale Foundation School has shown that it is the context within which those numbers exist that really makes a difference to students.

Kingsdale Foundation School – Buildings with a Heart

School buildings are essentially designed for learning. Yet with students spending so mucKingsdale Foundation Schoolh time within their walls, the built environment also has a responsibility to provide a space that is supportive and inclusive. Kingsdale Foundation School is one school where this concept has been embraced wholeheartedly.

Based in Dulwich, south London, Kingsdale Foundation School attracts students from across the area, many from very deprived neighbourhoods. To have a learning environment that is bright and welcoming is important to the self-esteem of all children and Kingsdale Foundation School is like a beacon of light that guides its students through their educational experience.

Kingsdale Foundation School was constructed in the late 1950s, and for forty years the mid-twentieth century architecture served the Kingsdale Foundation School community well. Yet constant use by young people takes its toll on buildings, and by the turn of the century Kingsdale Foundation School was in desperate need of physical modernisation. The school agreed to take part in an innovative programme called School Works.

Run by the Architecture Foundation, the philosophy behind School Works is all about the significant impact that the physical, built environment can have on the learning experience of students.  Kingsdale Foundation School was a prime candidate for the programme, and innovative architects dRMM set about developing designs for Kingsdale Foundation School that would revitalise the educational space, and bring the school up-to-date.

At the centre of Kingsdale Foundation School is a quadrangle nestled between the U-shaped main buildings. It was a largely unused part of the original Kingsdale Foundation School grounds. dRMM opted to retain and modernise this part of the campus, and in a stroke of architectural genius designed an awe-inspiring roof structure to span the quadrangle and create an “internal” communal space. This design was a revelation, and the introduction of open, raised walkways helps to link the old with the new, and the new covered atrium has become the heart of Kingsdale Foundation School.

The centrepiece of this new communal space is an asymmetrical geodesic structure, built from timber, which houses a spacious auditorium. Its pleasing shape gives it a heart-like appearance, and when it pulses with the music of live student performances, or the amplified murmurings of the congregated Kingsdale Foundation School population, the auditorium truly represents the heart of Kingsdale Foundation School.

Students at Kingsdale Foundation School are fiercely proud of their campus. Respect for their environment is encouraged and displayed at every turn. Prior to the building works, Kingsdale Foundation School was a school in trouble. With the dedication of staff, sound new school policies, an injection of architectural magic, Kingsdale Foundation School is now a thriving educational environment that is in high demand.

Kingsdale Foundation School – A Model of Popularity

Kingsdale Foundation School is one of the most popular state secondary schools in the country. The proof of this is in the seven applications that are received for each single place on the Kingsdale Foundation School roll at intake time. Kingsdale Foundation School has a reputation for providing effective education in a supportive, nurturing and respectful environment. Children want to go there.  Parents want to send them there.

Kingsdale Foundation SchoolThose who are fortunate enough to secure a place at Kingsdale Foundation School understand the privilege that has been accorded them, and this recognition helps to maintain the exemplary levels of behaviour and focus at Kingsdale Foundation School. There is a sense of students actively wanting to do their best, both for themselves, and because of the chance they have been given to receive an education in the vibrant environment that is Kingsdale Foundation School.

Yet Kingsdale Foundation School is more than just an educational establishment. Kingsdale Foundation School is a community, both inside and outside the school gates. The passion for creating a dynamic learning environment at Kingsdale Foundation School filtered through every aspect of life at Kingsdale Foundation School. The result is a stimulating learning environment that is inclusive and supportive, and alive with hope and positivity.

Kingsdale Foundation School describes itself as “inspiring and progressive”, in the sense that it works tirelessly to build a sense of purpose into the world of learning and actively engages students and parents in the process. Kingsdale Foundation School does not give up on any student, ever.  This belief in, and respect for, the value that exists inside every child, helps individual students to be the very best they can be, in whatever way is most appropriate. As a result, students at Kingsdale Foundation School have a very high level of self-respect, and consideration for their school environment and the wider community too.

Kingsdale Foundation School has worked hard to achieve its current impressive reputation. Kingsdale Foundation School is justifiably proud of its transformation, and the popularity it now enjoys.

Kingsdale Foundation School – Remarkable improvements

Kingsdale Foundation School attracts a large number of applications each year from potential students. This is due increasingly to its educational achievements and excellent reputation, including for the sixth form. Kingsdale Foundation School was originally opened in 1958 and teaches students aged from 11 to 19 years old. It is an independent ‘academy’ and its sixth form offers post-16 scholarships in choice subjects, as well as a larger range of A level courses. Located in Southwark, South London, Kingsdale Foundation School was ranked as one of the borough’s most popular school, based on number of applications in 2011.

Kingsdale Foundation School’s popularity hasn’t always been this way however and by the late 1990s it was in need of modernisation and investment.  Kingsdale Foundation Kingsdale Foundation SchoolSchool’s story of improvement has been reflected in the recent Ofsted reports with glowing praise regarding effectiveness and capacity for sustained improvement.

Kingsdale Foundation School has changed more than just its educational achievements however. A prototype project led by the company School Works has seen a drastic transformation in the school’s appearance. The former 50s style buildings did not provide a very bright, educational environment and today Kingsdale Foundation School is a much more inviting place to learn. De Rijke, Marsh and Morgan (DRMM) were the architects who undertook the project and they have left a real mark on the former dingy appearing school. The centrepiece of their work is a magnificent plastic polymer roof which covers the main courtyard and creates a bright, airy atrium. New corridors have also been added and the old, narrow corridors, which were previously windowless, are now lined with transparent walls. These improvements make Kingsdale Foundation School an excellent learning environment and the visit by British Prime Minister, David Cameron in May 2011 shows that the transformation it has undergone is highly recognised.

Kingsdale Foundation School – Love is in the Air

In his play “Twelfth Night” Shakespeare wrote “If music be the food of love, play on”, its meaning alluding to the idea that over-indulging in music may cure the character Orsino’s appetite for love, much as over-eating can remove the desire for food. At Kingsdale Foundation School music is never far from earshot, so those wishing to retain their romantic dreams should proceed with care through the Kingsdale Foundation SchoolKingsdale Foundation School doors, although it is difficult to imagine how the vibrant creativity of Kingsdale Foundation School students could ever have anything but a positive effect on those hearing it.

Music has been woven into the fabric of life at Kingsdale Foundation School since its inauguration in 1959. From its earliest days, Kingsdale Foundation School students were actively encouraged to explore their musical creativity, and every pupil had the chance to learn how to play an instrument.  The evolution of music at Kingsdale Foundation School has kept pace with modern life. Kingsdale Foundation School from the 1960s, busy with their traditional clarinet and violin lessons, would be amazed to see the array of instrumental choices on offer at the school today. Diverse genres including Jazz, Gospel and African drumming are now available for exploration, in addition to the more traditional instruments.

Although music is often created for purely personal enjoyment, Kingsdale Foundation School also recognises the desire in many students to share their music with others. As part of a £30 million redevelopment of the Kingsdale Foundation School buildings in the early 2000s, a new music block was built. This impressive architectural structure houses enviable facilities, including seven practice rooms, a dedicated rehearsal room, and a recording studio. These spaces are linked by an up-to-date suite of networked Apple Mac computers. Kingsdale Foundation School can record and save their compositions almost anywhere in the block, for editing later in the recording studio.

The final creative masterpiece in the new Kingsdale Foundation School design, is affectionately known as “the Pod”. It is a vast timber-framed auditorium, that nestles in the very centre of Kingsdale Foundation School’s large covered communal area. The Pod is able to accommodate the many hundreds of people, and is used regularly by Kingsdale Foundation School as a performance space.  Audiences include staff and students, and also members of the wider Kingsdale Foundation School community who flock to the campus to enjoy dancing, music and other performance shows.

Kingsdale Foundation School has always had strong links with its local community. Its Performing Arts specialism in particular offers the chance for students to engage with the wider world, whether through collaborations with other schools, or the participation in local festivals of youth orchestras. Now that is music to the ears.

Kingsdale Foundation School | Architectural and Educational Excellence Combined

Kingsdale Foundation School has been an integral part of the community in Southwark, south London, since its construction in 1958. Designed by Leslie Martin, the original Kingsdale Foundation School buildings were part of a new site that incorporated the local primary school. Kingsdale Foundation School served a socially diverse community.

During the 1970s Kingsdale Foundation School was part of a social engineering experiment designed to offer pupils from deprived inner city areas a more leafy and suburban educational setting. The challenges that this presented to Kingsdale Foundation School were numerous, but it always strived to serve its community in the most proactive manner. After more than 40 years the buildings were showing signs of wear and tear, and by 2001, it was clear that Kingsdale Foundation School needed a boost.

Kingsdale Foundation SchoolIn conjunction with the School Works initiative operated by the Architecture Foundation, Kingsdale Foundation School volunteered to participate in a redevelopment project that would transform Kingsdale Foundation School into a modern architectural triumph. The School Works initiative at Kingsdale Foundation School was intended to illustrate how buildings can have a significant effect on the attitudes of students and staff, improving morale and raising academic standards. The result was a resounding success.

By 2010 Kingsdale Foundation School had received two very positive Ofsted reports.  The dramatic improvement in the physical structure of Kingsdale Foundation School was driven by architect’s dRMM. Instead of demolishing the existing buildings and starting afresh, they took the key design decision to maintain many of the original buildings and transplant additional structures onto and around them. In adopting this approach, dRMM retained the essence of Kingsdale Foundation School, whilst adding fresh and innovative elements to the buildings that promote the sense of community that is a cornerstone of the Kingsdale Foundation School ethos.

Radically transforming the built environment at Kingsdale Foundation School in this way has helped to drive the profound change in fortunes of the school. Kingsdale Foundation School was endowed with a sense of hope for a bright future that has infiltrated the attitudes of staff and students throughout the school. As a result, Kingsdale Foundation School has enjoyed significant improvements in academic success, and is now one of the most over-subscribed schools in the country. Reports on Kingsdale Foundation School reveal that behavioural standards are extremely high, truancy levels are virtually zero, and crucially, staff turnover is low. Kingsdale Foundation School is the pride of its community once more.