PLS in practice
- Week 3
This week the PLS team went to Trumpington Park Primary School to create a new learning space. After months of planning, analysing the School vision and building links between pedagogy and space, we were able to deliver and install the new kit that the staff had carefully chosen for the learning environment. We have taken the staff through the PLS framework and the different design models and they have identified the types of learning activities they wanted the children to experience. The following areas have been implemented in the new learning environment to provide spaces for ICT, group work, independent learning, quiet learning and reading. Pedagogy and space go hand in hand, and as we’ve said before, you have to understand that teaching practices that take place in a room before you can understand how the room should be styled because this could lead to the space being used ineffectively. For staff at Trumpington Park Primary school, they wanted to give children the options of where and how they wanted to learn. Therefore, it was important to have a range of spaces where children could either work as part of a group, in a pair or independently. In addition to this, the staff wanted to look at a range of seating options that would allow their children to focus and engage more in their learning by allowing them to make more choice and move freely around the learning environment. By carefully designing new types of tables, for example, we have given the staff and children at Trumpington Park Primary school infinite options of how they could deliver a lesson or activity. The Gratnells Learning Rooms tables can fit together in so many different ways that allow the children to choose if they want to work with a peer or independently. With every surface in the room now a write-on surface, we have given the children the ability to be creative in a purposeful way. We have co-created with the staff, an adaptable and flexible learning environment that can be easily reconfigured to suit all learners in highly creative and innovative ways. The PLS process has motivated staff to reflect on all available spaces within the existing classroom. The conversion of the existing cloakroom space has been transferred into the adjacent corridor allowing the alcove area to be used more effectively as a quiet study area. The PLS team would also like to thank Learniture and SpaceOasis for their support with the project tables which will be used for group work, and Hille for their support with the Pepperpot Stools in the new ICT area. I will be bringing you further updates on how the staff and children are using their new learning environment over the next few weeks. My focus next week returns to Grey Lynn school in New Zealand and I will be sharing more information about how the school are using our PLS Framework to transform it into a whole-school strategy. Bhavini Pandya
- Week 2
The staff and students at Grey Lynn school in New Zealand have moved from single cell, teacher-directed group organisation into open collaborative spaces, in line with developing New Zealand government policy. This has left principal, Alicia Whata, with the challenge of transitioning staff and learners from their existing practices to working in the new open-plan learning zones. Grey Lynn school have been one of the first to have gone through the Planning Learning Spaces in practice international projects. Having successfully gone through the PLS process with our project team, the school is now building upon the learning outcomes, the links between pedagogy and space and how this should be embedded in the design of their new learning environments. The staff at Grey Lynn have embraced the new collaborative spaces in their school and are constantly learning from one another as they continue through their next stage of development. As both the project facilitator at Grey Lynn and as a former principal, Sandra Jenkins says “I have witnessed how engaged and empowered staff have been throughout the PLS process. It has created an opportunity for staff to reflect upon their current and next practice at Grey Lynn school. Staff have been able to define the learning activities and behaviours that will ultimately shape the planning of their new learning spaces.” The PLS process at Grey Lynn has had a profound impact on the learners, staff and the community. It has shown staff at the school that change can be positive and impactful on learning and teaching. As Lead Project Facilitator and a former teacher, I am pleased that our PLS framework has allowed change to take place effectively at Grey Lynn school. For some teachers at other schools, the thought of changing something in the learning environment can often create apprehension, but the way in which our framework carefully guides the staff through different scenarios shows that changing the way things are done, can prove to be positive, successful and inspiring for all teaching staff and learners. As quoted by Sandra Jenkins (project facilitator) “Through following the PLS Framework, the school have redesigned their learning spaces in the most effective ways possible and now we must ensure we have continued sustainability going forward. The school have also identified the next steps that they wish to work on through their strategy for change plan. This will support the school to continue to reflect and review the effectiveness of their new collaborative spaces. It will be great to see the changes being implemented at Grey Lynn school over the next 12 months.” Look out for my next post, which will give you a recent update on our PLS project at Trumpington Park Primary School, here in the UK. Bhavini Pandya
- Week 1
Schools and governments around the world are starting to recognise that learning spaces have a significant impact on academic attainment. There is a growing body of research showing that classrooms purposefully designed to support the learning activities that go on in them, rather than ‘one size fits all’ boxes, provide clear benefits to learners and teachers. For schools that want to improve their learning environments, but need support with the process of change, help is at hand from the team behind the best-selling book Planning Learning Spaces. The Planning Learning Spaces Design Framework helps schools to translate their educational vision into learning space design principles, enabling them to create new, or refurbish existing, spaces that actively support their learning goals. Schools are guided through a reflective process, building the link between curriculum and design through a structured framework. Focusing on the school’s vision, values and ethos, the process helps translate learning behaviours and activities into design principles. The process builds consensus throughout the teaching staff and the wider school community to support sustained change, empowering schools to be creators of a new, ongoing relationship between pedagogy and space. Our message is simple “you can’t successfully design education spaces unless you fully understand the learning and teaching practices they need to support”. The Planning Learning Spaces team along with Gratnells Learning Rooms and Professor Peter Barrett, have chosen a primary school based in Cambridge to be the first in the UK to pilot this project. Trumpington Park Primary School along with four other schools, belong to the Cambridge Primary Education Trust (CPET). As a Multi-Academy Trust, the schools within CPET have a passion for sharing great teaching practice with one another, to in turn, provide excellence for all their students. Trumpington Park Primary school welcomes children from the surrounding areas and is currently open to children in Reception to Year 4. As the school is newly built, it is not yet full to capacity. This means the school has flexibility in terms of the rooms they use for teaching and learning. The PLS team are excited to be launching the project here in the UK and by working with a school that not only celebrates change, but also learns from it, will prove meaningful in the journey we embark on. We will be bringing you regular updates as the project unfolds at Trumpington Park Primary School.
- Schools returning
We are very interested in how schools will deal with pupils’ staged return during the pandemic. Here is our contributor Gary Spracklen on Good Morning Britain explaining how The Prince of Wales School in Dorset will deal with returning students, introducing the concept of ‘kingdoms’.