Category Archives: schooling

Kingsdale Foundation School | Attracting Attention

May 10th 2011 was an auspicious day for Kingsdale Foundation School. They received a surprise visit from Prime Minister David Cameron.  After 10 years of hard work and dedication Kingsdale Foundation School had achieved what many considered impossible.  The visit by the Prime Minister was an acknowledgement from the very highest level, of what Kingsdale Foundation School has achieved.Kingsdale Foundation School

The Prime Minister was given a tour of Kingsdale Foundation School. The school buildings have undergone a major redevelopment programme during the 2000s as by 1998, the original 1958 structures had fallen into disrepair. When Kingsdale Foundation School was approached to take part in a pilot scheme run by the charity the Architectural Foundation they needed no second bidding. The project fell under its School Works programme, and worked with Kingsdale Foundation School to create a physical academic environment designed to stimulate and nurture success.

The construction of the new buildings at Kingsdale Foundation School was completed in two key phases. The first of cleverly incorporated the existing buildings in a vast covered communal space, reviving a little-used courtyard that had lain dormant between key Kingsdale Foundation School buildings. An innovative roof structure at Kingsdale Foundation School floods the area with light, and is carefully designed to adjust its transparency according to prevailing weather conditions. It makes a striking addition to the Southwark skyline, and ensures that Kingsdale Foundation School is very much part of the local community.

The second phase of works saw the creation of new sports and music buildings for Kingsdale Foundation School. Through the creative use of eco-friendly construction materials and methods, architects dRMM created award-winning structures across the Kingsdale Foundation School site that caused the establishment to sit up and take notice. Having this new building framework helped Kingsdale Foundation School to develop academically, and socially, resulting in a school that is in demand and has a fierce pride in its achievements.

Prime Minister David Cameron is not the only well-known figure to have visited Kingsdale Foundation School. In 2009, in a break from filming one of the Harry Potter films, actress Imelda Staunton dropped by. After viewing Kingsdale Foundation School and its impressive arts and music facilities, she engaged in a Q&A session with students, giving them ample opportunity to probe her with questions about her long and successful career. Inspiring stuff, and a further example of how far Kingsdale Foundation School has come, and the commitment of staff to creating a learning environment that is rich in experiences as it is in academic effort.

Kingsdale Foundation School | A Curriculum that moves with the times

When it first opened in 1959 the curriculum offered by Kingsdale Foundation School followed national guidelines that reflected the era. Subjects studied at the Kingsdale Foundation School of the early 1960s included the basic literacy elements of English and Maths, and many traditional subjects such as music, science, PE, geography and history. With many households still operating a traditional family unit at the time, further subjects in the Kingsdale Foundation School curriculum reflected this, including needlework and housecraft. Vocational studies were made available for older Kingsdale Foundation School students.

Reflecting changing times and a growing interest in travel, modern foreign languages already played an important role in the learning experience in the early days at Kingsdale Foundation School. The multicultural nature of the student intake at Kingsdale Foundation School will certainly have played a part in the willingness to explore these subjects, with many students coming from diverse ethnic backgrounds reflecting the wider London community.

Kingsdale Foundation School was also one of the first UK schools to add Russian to its curriculum, and some children participated in a six-country tour in the first few years following Kingsdale Foundation School’s inauguration. One Kingsdale Foundation School pupil was selected to be among 48 specially selected ambassadors for Britain by the Rhodes Educational Trust, and spent a month in Canada.

Kingsdale Foundation SchoolIn the science curriculum at the young Kingsdale Foundation School, physical dissection of small mammals played an important part in the learning experience, and under the careful guidance of art staff, Kingsdale Foundation School pupils experimented with pottery and silk-screen printing.  Engineering, metalwork and woodwork were key parts of the education system at Kingsdale Foundation School too.

By the late 1980’s, many of these more traditional subjects had been replaced at Kingsdale Foundation School by technology based subjects, to reflect the new world era of the microchip.  Throughout its life, however, one core set of subjects has remained unchanged at Kingsdale Foundation School. These are in the areas of the performing arts – music, dance, and drama.  Kingsdale Foundation School is known within its local community as a school with a strong record of achievement in these fields.

In addition to the basic curriculum, Kingsdale Foundation School has always seen the benefit of extra-curricular activities, and numerous clubs were on offer from the outset, including science, art, ballroom dancing and radio. This pattern continues today at Kingsdale Foundation School, with staff consistently giving freely their time to ensure that students continue to receive the very best that the UK education system has to offer.

Kingsdale Foundation School | A Music Department with the X-Factor

Since its inauguration in 1959, Kingsdale Foundation School has always had a soft spot for music. In the early years at Kingsdale Foundation School every student played an instrument, irrespective of ability. This passion for musical creativity remains alive at Kingsdale Foundation School today, where the vibrant music department provided every student with an opportunity to explore their talents.

In 2008, amidst great excitement, Kingsdale Foundation School officially opened its new music block. 2007 Urban Music Award winner and Jazz legend, Courtney Pine, was bestowed with the honour of opening Kingsdale Foundation School’s newest facility. Students then demonstrated why the investment was deserved, in a stunning concert laid on in the new school auditorium. Kingsdale Foundation School displayed its musical talKingsdale Foundation Schoolent in a diverse programme of entertainment that included an African drumming ensemble, jazz band, and an impressive steel band. Pine was suitably impressed by the energy of the Kingsdale Foundation School performers, and was moved to comment, “I think I have found a school for my three girls.”

Constructed as part of a wholesale redevelopment and upgrade of the Kingsdale Foundation School buildings in the early 2000s, the new music block boasts facilities that are the envy of many schools.  An on-site recording studio offers students at Kingsdale Foundation School the chance to take their music compositions to the next level. The Kingsdale Foundation School music facility also includes an impressive suite of networked Apple Mac computers, loaded with recording software, which allow students anywhere in the block to capture and record their music spontaneously.

There is no shortage of space in the new music block at Kingsdale Foundation School. It is equipped with seven practice rooms and a dedicated rehearsal room too, all in addition to the five classrooms.  Kingsdale Foundation School’s dedication to music and performance was rewarded in 2005, when it was given academy status with a specialism in the performing arts. In 2009, students from Kingsdale Foundation School visited Namibia to share their school band talents, and the many music ensembles nurtured by staff take part in regular performances to the school, and the wider community.

For Kingsdale Foundation School it is in part the music that played a major role in the latest. Positive recent Ofsted inspections reports speak for themselves, but have to shout loudly to be heard over the sound of music that is the soundtrack to life at Kingsdale Foundation School.

Kingsdale Foundation School – A VIP Guest

There are more than 3000 secondary schools in England alone, catering for students through the age range of 11-18.  Kingsdale Foundation School is one such educational establishment. Kingsdale Foundation School shines out amongst the many for the repeated praise it has received for the educational transformation that it has experienced in the last 10 years.

Kingsdale Foundation School has not always enjoyed such enviable status. It is, in part, the complete transformation that Kingsdale Foundation School has undergone that helps it to stand out from the crowd. On 10th May 2011, this immense achievement was recognised at the highest possible level. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, made a visit to Kingsdale Foundation School and took time to tour the facilities and talk to staff and students.

Kingsdale Foundation SchoolThe Prime Minister was full of glowing praise for Kingsdale Foundation School and everything it has accomplished in the last decade. He was clearly impressed by Kingsdale Foundation School at every level, and this was reflected in his public comments following the visit.  His most notable remark was to declare that Kingsdale Foundation School is “brilliant”.

Naturally, the visit sparked lively debate and discussion throughout Kingsdale Foundation School.  Members of the teaching staff joined students as they enthusiastically lined the walkways, overlooking the stunning covered atrium that is the central communal area at the heart of Kingsdale Foundation School.  The Prime Minister was welcomed to Kingsdale Foundation School by the whole school community.

The Prime Minister was given an insight into life at Kingsdale Foundation School, chatting animatedly to students in a Food Technology lesson before pausing to speak to the waiting  Kingsdale Foundation School students in the atrium, engaging in direct discussions with many of them.

A visit from the Prime Minister to Kingsdale Foundation School is an acknowledgement that the changes it has undergone have been recognised as a great success. The confidence shown by numerous official bodies in Kingsdale Foundation School is testament to the hard work, tenacity, and dedication of the Kingsdale Foundation School staff, and the desire of its students to succeed. These qualities are ones which will assist the young people passing through the Kingsdale Foundation School educational experience in every area of their adult lives to come.

Kingsdale Foundation School – Designed for Life

Kingsdale Foundation School is a secondary school in Dulwich, south London. It has academy status for its specialism in the Performing Arts, and is one of the most oversubscribed state schools in the UK. At least seven students apply for each available place every September. KKingsdale Foundation Schoolingsdale Foundation School is a bright and vibrant environment, one where students have respect for each other, and for the school itself. Kingsdale Foundation School students are a fortunate bunch, but this apparently idyllic picture of a calm, structured, learning environment where pupils thrive has been hard won, and this is one reason why Kingsdale Foundation School students are so fiercely proud.

When Kingsdale Foundation School first opened in 1959 it was considered to be ultra-modern.    Designed by a renowned architect of the day, Kingsdale Foundation School led the way in construction ideas for many schools of the time. 40 years on, in 1999, and the fabric of the site that housed Kingsdale Foundation School was beginning to fall apart. The original Kingsdale Foundation School buildings had done their job well, but as the needs of students evolved they became unfit for modern purposes, and the dark, narrow corridors were just no longer suitable.

Foundation School agreed to take part in a £30 million pilot scheme to totally revamp its infrastructure. More than just a redevelopment project, this School Works scheme run by the Architecture Foundation worked on the premise that learning success is directly linked to the quality of the built environment in which the education takes place. Kingsdale Foundation School received a new design that not only future-proofed it for continuing technological developments, but also provided an inspiring and uplifting workspace.

The success of this pilot project was quantifiably delivered at Kingsdale Foundation School through ongoing improvements in GCSE success rates, the virtual eradication of exclusions, and a significantly and exponential increase in demand for student places. Kingsdale Foundation School students gained more than just a new place to exist. They were the fortunate recipients of a physical school space that invites them to be the best they can be.

Kingsdale Foundation School welcomes students from a wide variety of social and cultural backgrounds. Kingsdale Foundation School promotes an active celebration of this diversity. Values of acceptance, mutual respect and a commitment to succeed in whatever way is most appropriate for each student are at the core of the Kingsdale Foundation School ethos, and are stimulated by the very space in which the students learn.

Kingsdale Foundation School – A Very Modern School

After the 1997 election, the then British government launched a scheme called “Building Schools for the Future” with the specific aim of refurbishing and replacing every single state secondary school in the country.  Kingsdale Foundation School is no stranger to this concept, as it was one of the first benefit from the government’s commitment. Kingsdale Foundation School is proof that the scheme did not necessarily mean demolition for schools. The regeneration that has taken place at Kingsdale Foundation School has illustrated in the most striking way just what can be achieved through the clever blending of old and new.

Redevelopment of the site at Kingsdale Foundation School became possible under the School Works scheme run by the Architecture Foundation. Its premise is that academic and personal growth can be enhanced, or hampered, by the surrounding physical environment. When Kingsdale Foundation School agreed to take part in the project it was in drastic need of physical modernisation. The buildings which were constructed in the late 1950s were crumbling and in decay, and the students of Kingsdale Foundation School were struggling to find a positive mindset in this gloomy physical environment.

Phase one of the Kingsdale Foundation School project run by architects dRMM reconfigured the central courtyard area around which the original main building was wrapped. Initially intended to act as a space for Kingsdale Foundation School students to congregate, the area was largely underused, as a design flaw meant that student circulation was directed elsewhere on the site in order to access other buildings. dRMM sought to incorporate this space into their new design, and succeeded in doing so with the introduction of a highly complex and state-of-the-art roof structure over the courtyard, effectively creating a new internal space for Kingsdale Foundation School to use.

Kingsdale Foundation SchoolThe success of this initial Phase sparked the commencement of Phase two. Kingsdale Foundation School was in need of a new music block and a new sports block. dRMM worked their design ‘magic’ once more with these two buildings, incorporating innovative shaping and construction methods into both. Kingsdale Foundation School now benefits from a sports block that is far more than the traditional “big shed”, which is often built to satisfy the dictates of Sports England. Kingsdale Foundation School sports block has been made into a Venturian decorated shed, which has a stunning twisted roof and a creative use of internal space to maximise its usability.

dRMM applied similar creative thought to the Kingsdale Foundation School music block, that includes a perforated envelope construction with glass-covered kidney-shaped openings that act as stunning roof lights on the high vertical surfaces of the building. These modern new buildings have helped to give Kingsdale Foundation School a new lease of life, and have played a key role in transforming the school into one of the most oversubscribed in London.

Architect Alex de Rijke explains how Kingsdale Foundation School was transformed | Kingsdale Foundation School

Alex de Rijke, a well-known architect who worked with a number of other designers on the extensive refurbishment of Kingsdale Foundation School, was recently interviewed regarding his participation in this project. When asked why he and his team chose not to demolish the old buildings at Kingsdale Foundation School, and instead remodel them, Alex explained that this decision was made not only due to the constraints of their budget, but also because they felt that demolishing these structures would be like getting rid of a piece of history.

Rather than erasing the past, Alex explained, they wanted the project to focus on the evolution and development of Kingsdale Foundation School. He added that he considered the existing buildings of Kingsdale Foundation School, which were originally designed by the architect Leslie Martin, to be an unfinished, modernist work of art, which simply needed to be completed. The team of architects and designers spent close to a year planning the remodelling of Kingsdale Foundation School.

Kingsdale Foundation School

They decided to eliminate the transverse block in the courtyard of Kingsdale Foundation School, as they felt that this simply took up space and did not serve any functional purpose. In addition to this, they installed an enormous, clear coloured atrium which has a translucent roof, and this helped to add light and a sense of spaciousness to the previously cramped, dark dining area in Kingsdale Foundation School. This roof allows plenty of natural light into the space, but still protects the students from the rain and wind.

The Kingsdale Foundation School atrium also has a green resin floor; which is extremely durable – as well as concrete planters. The decor of Kingsdale Foundation School is modern, and has a serene quality to it which seems to be having a positive impact on the students; as since the project was finished, bullying incidents have been dramatically reduced.

However, it is the aforementioned roof in Kingsdale Foundation School which has gotten the most attention from the media; as it is the largest one of its kind ever created, and was made using the same materials that the Eden Project used to create their specialist greenhouses. The roof comes with what Alex describes as a ‘double skin’, that changes automatically, depending on how strong the sun happens to be on any given day, so that more light can be shed on the atrium on cloudy days, and less light when the day is a big brighter. Essentially, this atrium at Kingsdale Foundation Schoolserves as both an internal and an external space.

How Kingsdale Foundation School was returned to its former glory

Kingsdale Foundation School first opened its doors to students in the year 1957, during the public sector building boom. Leslie Martin was the architect behind it; at the time, he was the architecture department’s director at the Greater London Council. When his finished designed was unveiled, it was praised for its modern look. However, four decades later, Kingsdale Foundation School had fallen from glory; it was showing signs of deterioration, both academically and architecturally, and was in desperate need of a change.

School-works was the initiative which would eventually help to transform Kingsdale Foundation School. This project was set up by the Architecture Foundation, who wanted to see whether or not a renovation of the buildings at Kingsdale Foundation School could have an effect on students ‘self esteem and their academic performance, as well as the overall morale of the student body as a whole. The initial funding for the renovation of Kingsdale Foundation School came from the DFES, although the first phase was such a success that further funding was then provided by the local council, and other organisations, to complete more work.

The design which the architects came up with exploited the original buildings at Kingsdale Foundation School – they decided that rather than demolish the older sections, they would refurbish them and bring them into the 21st century. For example, new performance and assembly spaces were added to the auditorium area of Kingsdale Foundation School, and new dining facilities, as well as a large, translucent roof were installed in the internal courtyard. The changes made to Kingsdale Foundation School mean that learning can now beyond the standard curriculum, as students can make use of the music hall, with its recording studio, and the stage area in the auditorium, for dance and performance. Even the corridors at Kingsdale Foundation School have been given a refreshing makeover, with new stairs, ‘bridges’ and aerial walkways added.

The designers and architects spent a year consulting, planning and collaborating before the work began at Kingsdale Foundation School, and many specialist engineers and artists were brought in to help with the final creations. For instance Gordon Cowley helped with the design of the geodesic, asymmetric auditorium, and the ‘useful art’ installation was provided by Atelier van Lieshout.

Kingsdale Foundation School | Taking a look at the School Works project which transformed one Southwark school

School Works, an initiative developed by the Architecture Foundation, was created so as to determine whether or not there was a connection between the design of a school building and the learning standards, morale and behaviour of those attending it. In 1998, Kingsdale School, once a dilapidated comprehensive, was chosen as the prototype for this experiment.Kingsdale Foundation school

The designers and architects who were a part of this initiative wanted to radically recycle, rather than replace, the school campus and it was this decision which transformed Kingsdale Foundation School. The re-design of the building, along with the changes made in the management of the school, resulted in sustainable, fundamental improvements to both academic performance and behavioural issues. Evidence of these changes can be seen in the official data  which show ongoing  improvements in exam results and outstanding behaviour and attendance.

The school building, constructed during the late fifties, was strategically redefined and edited, using one of the biggest ETFE roofs in the world. This transparent sheet which now covers the courtyard helped to create a ventilated and naturally lit space which is now home not only to a canteen, but also a geodesic, timber auditorium. Inside of the auditorium – or the ‘Pod’ as it is known-lies an integrated sculpture created by the artist Atelier Van Lieshout. The renovation project was carried out in phases, so as to make sure that the construction work did not intrude on student life too much.

The atrium was part of the first phase; following the positive reactions to it, the second phase was initiated. This involved the development of brand new music and sports buildings. These structures were made using timber panel, carbon negative construction materials. The designers who worked on them wanted to transform these somewhat generic, empty spaces into an expressive form of architecture which provided maximum flexibility and natural light.

‘Angular form’ was the theme for the music building; using just flat-packed timber, the design team managed to create an inspirational space which now features roof sculptures and innovative cladding detailing. The second phase was completed at the beginning of 2007. Such was the success of the project overall, that Kingsdale Foundation School  was featured on the Channel 4 series, The Secret Life of Buildings, which examined how our physical surroundings affect our feelings and our behaviour.

Kingsdale Foundation School | Dozens of schools around in England in dire need of renovation

Kingsdale Foundation SchoolIt is a sad fact that a huge number schools across the country are in desperate need of a re-design; it is hoped that a soon-to-be-announced school design competition will serve as inspiration for some much-needed changes to educational institutes around England. For decades, teachers, parents and students have been forced to make do with crumbling old classrooms, break rooms and offices.

Both students and staff members at dozens of schools have been complaining about the lack of hygiene and appropriate bathroom facilities for several years now, but in many cases, nothing has been done to address the problem. A survey which was recently carried out by staff members at a well-known UK university revealed that the bathrooms at said university were so badly designed and unhygienic, that two thirds of men and one third of women refused to use them.

Inspections of various schools around the country show that it is not merely the bathroom facilities which are in need of an update though – the results of these inspections show that the classrooms and staff break rooms are just as awful. Unfortunately, many schools have no other choice than to carry on and make do with the facilities they currently have. However, even schools that have the funding to make some changes are being criticised –experts from the Audit Commission have argued that the attempts made by certain schools to renovate their old buildings have been disappointing, and that the changes demonstrate a lack of vision.

There are however, a number of schools who seem to have hit the nail on the head when it comes to renovations. One example is Kingsdale Foundation School. This educational institute was, up until the early 2000s in a very different  state. The buildings were dark, dingy and poorly designed, and had not been properly renovated in decades.

However, more than twenty eight million pounds was raised and subsequently invested in the redesign of the Kingsdale Foundation School buildings. The results have been amazing, with Kingsdale Foundation School now being listed amongst the most improved schools in the country. Architects and designers helped to completely transform the buildings, adding more natural light and space to the once dark and narrow corridors and classrooms.  Kingsdale is now truly a school fir for the 21st Century.