An upcoming national school design competition is likely to inspire both students and architects alike to create a more positive learning environment. For years now, students, parents and teachers in schools around the country have despaired at the state of their educational buildings. One of the biggest gripes relates to the unhygienic, old bathroom facilities typically found in schools around the country; a recent study carried out by Newcastle University showed that the bathrooms were in such a terrible state that thirty five percent of girls and sixty two percent of boys completely avoided using them.
However, it’s not just the bathrooms that are poorly designed and maintained in schools; the staff facilities and classrooms are equally appalling. Inspections have revealed that more than twenty five percent of schools around the country do not have adequate accommodation.
Many schools are struggling to cope with their existing facilities, and those that have tried to make changes are being condemned for their lack of forward thinking. A recent report from the Audit Commission criticised the current attempts at the refurbishment of several schools in England, arguing that the changes lacked vision and did not take into account the ever-changing curriculum of most schools. The report also said that those making the refurbishments were ignoring the opportunities they had to include adult learning centres for the community.
However, one school which has managed to get it right, in terms of re-design, is Kingsdale Foundation School. Up until the turn of the century, the original 1960s building was in serious need of a makeover. But the Kingsdale Foundation School principal, along with the organisation School Works, were up for the challenge; they successfully raised approximately £30 million to transform the school into one truly fit for the 21st Century. The result is a stunning educational facility and a safe and pleasant environment for students and teachers.
The improvements which have been noted since this re-design took place are dramatic, with Kingsdale Foundation School now being named as one of Southwark’s and the UK’s most popular state schools with parents and students The approach taken by the aforementioned organisation School Works is to improve the working and learning experience of everyone within a school, and so involved parents, staff, and students coming together to create a better place to learn.