If you thought learning could only take place in a classroom with four walls, 30 chairs and quite a few tables, prepare to have your assumptions challenged. The Croft Primary School part of The White Horse Federation Multi-Academy Trust (TWHF) in Swindon, an Outstanding primary school that opened in 2012, has created a stunning open learning space based around the idea of a village green.
Joana Scanlon, KS2 Leader at The Croft Primary School & Alison Capstick, Head of Teaching & Learning at The White Horse Federation Multi-Academy Trust tell us more.
The centre of the learning space is a Village Green designed to inspire and host learning for up to 120 children. This may take various forms including team teaching, joint inputs, debates and small group work, while maintaining and nurturing the Croft ethos “Learning at the head and heart of everything we do”, which underpins everything. The key for the village green is for us to have a creative and flexible space used to support and inspire learning. We both felt that a central space was of absolute importance for this learning environment.
“I like the bit in the middle, I like the green grass, I think it’s good when we are all together on the grass.”
Year 4 Pupil
Four learning environments flow out from the Village Green, they are all interconnected and lend themselves to a supportive and cohesive space that will engender a creative and purposeful curriculum offer for Upper Key Stage 2. Building on from other open plan areas in the Croft this will be an area where children will flourish and continue to be independent learners.
As Croft is growing year on year this space will eventually become the Year 5 and 6 learning space. Currently we are taking advantage of the learning space being vacant. Already we have held a variety of events. These have included a Remembrance Service supported by Royal British Legion & Mayor of Swindon, STEM, Literacy and Arts Festivals supported by seven other TWHF schools, theme days to support new topics, TWHF Business Meetings and a Christmas Wonderland Concert.
“It’s brilliant we can use the desks as whiteboards. We can collaborate as one team.”
From the back of a train timetable to reality
Myself and colleague Alison Capstick had a vision for this space, albeit on the back of a train timetable whilst drinking a latte, which in consultation with James at Spaceoasis® became a slicker plan that was made reality. With our ideas and James’s enthusiasm a CAD was created. This was supported and endorsed by our CEO and Director of Education and within weeks the order was placed. The Spaceoasis installation team arrived and within two days (and a constant supply of tea and biscuits) the sketch on the back of the train timetable had become a reality.
Although not in use as a Year 5/6 area yet the children really enjoy using this new learning environment for events and festivals. This year we are taking classes to the Village Green area preparing them for the next steps in their learning and so we can adapt the environment to suit all types of learnings.
I think if you are considering breaking the mould, you need to dream big and aim for blue skies. Don’t compromise your vision with budgets; design first, ask later. Go for it!