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Client Advisers for London Borough of Lambeth BSF Programme

As a part of Lambeth BSF programme SCABAL acted as Client Design Advisor for Dunraven School in Streatham.

SCABAL originally produced a report and provided ongoing advice proposing educational transformation in mixed stock of existing buildings, re-use of the better buildings through selected re-modelling, refurbishment and refreshment, selective demolition of the weaker, less valuable buildings, and selective addition of new buildings.

Since its inception, the BSF programme had adjusted from one of total building replacement to one that promotes transformational agendas in education. How do you promote educational transformation in Lambeth’s highest performing secondary school? This school had been gradually improving over the past ten years and sees its changing future as “evolutionary rather than revolutionary”.

The school’s vision calls for “a range of spaces that will suit differing learning styles and pedagogies…to develop an individualised and flexible learning culture with radically different and more flexible use of spaces…” The suggestion here is for spaces in size and disposition to suit a more varied grouping of students and learning opportunities than the familiar format of conventional subject based classrooms.

The question is how radically different should the spaces be from those of today and from each other?

More flexible use of spaces” suggests different group sizes, transition between spaces for different activities, longer and even shorter switches between activities within and between subjects, longer periods within one part of the school, teachers travelling to find students, wider participation of teaching assistants etc. These innovations will inform the shape of Independent Learning Centres, which by concentrating year groups in one part of the school allows for flexible organisations to make best use for a wider variety of interconnecting spaces.

With an arrangement, whereby the school is not split into subject or faculty areas but by curriculum stages or year groups and where children learn in ILCs, opportunities for cross-curricula and project-based learning can flourish so subjects can cross conventional boundaries. Many aspects of science for example can be taught and learned in conventional unequipped classroom or seminar spaces using furniture and equipment (especially ICT) common to English or Geography.

Other aspects of science, however, require greater specificity even than that found today, to allow hands-on experiments, use of chemicals etc. Acknowledgement of different teaching and learning styles and techniques, even within a single traditional subject area, can foster a wider range of room types so that a science lab can be reinvented for exhibition experiments, lead lecture practical demonstrations or it can become a super-lab. With less timetable pressure on specialist spaces brought about by cross-flow in the ILCs, they can become more varied, more specific and more flexible.

Service: Client Advisers

Location: Lambeth, London

Client: LB Lambeth

Cost: £tbc

Dates: 2012

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