With high expectations of its polite and friendly pupils, a high priority placed on reading and above average levels of achievement, particularly in maths and English, Bethany Junior School in Bournemouth sounds like a typical good school.
But many of Bethany’s pupils come from deprived backgrounds, some have little or no English and they speak over 30 different languages between them. No matter what their background or level of ability on entering the school, Bethany’s passionate staff ensure each and every pupil is given the opportunity to excel. And excel they do.
One of the ways they help every pupil achieve, is through using targeted intervention for small, focused groups of pupils who need extra help, or to stretch and challenge the more able. Creating a room specifically designed for intervention groups was the challenge for Spaceoasis.
The Oasis Room
“Many of our children have chaotic home lives so we wanted to create a space that was, literally, an oasis,” explains Acting Head, Steve Cottrell. “A special place for them that was calm and ordered, somewhere they would really want to be and that would inspire new ways of learning. The intervention groups vary in size and pedagogy, so creating an agile space that could be reconfigured easily was crucial. We also wanted to create a sense that this could be a fun place, so colour was also important.” Mobile petal tables with dry-wipe writable surfaces sit alongside mobile laptop tables, all of which can be moved easily. The table edges are a rainbow of seven different colours, which makes them look and feel special and not like ‘ordinary’ tables.
One whole wall in the Oasis Room is clad in Learning Surface™ providing a huge dry-wipe writable area for collaborative work, which teachers can digitally photograph to record and save.
Mobile Agile screens also have writable surfaces as well as graphics. Upholstered stools in bright colours that match the table edges provide comfortable, fun seating. All of the furniture is mobile, so you can create calm quiet places for small groups or lay out the room to accommodate up to 30 people.
Along the top of the Learning Surface™ wall are coloured LEDs, which create different effects depending on the lesson: red for energy and stimulation, blue for calm contemplation. Pupils and staff take their shoes off at the door, which reinforces the feeling that this is a special, different place, and encourages good behaviour.
The Oasis Room opened in autumn 2014. Since then it has been in constant use.
“People love the way they can unpack their thinking straight on to the tables and walls. Staff talk more and share ideas more freely when using the room – I only wish we had the space to build another one.” Steve Cottrell, Acting Head, Bethany Junior School
How the furniture supports teaching and learning
The table edges and upholstered stools are a rainbow of seven different colours and the mobile screens have graphics, numbers, colours and shapes on. These devices can be used to create randomised groups. For example, you could select everyone sitting on a blue seat to be in one group. The canny pupils will quickly work this out and make sure all their friends are sitting on the same colour seats at the next lesson, so teachers can also group people according to the shapes, numbers or graphics on the screens or the colour of the table edge, which means no-one can predict how the groups will be selected.
“Colleagues at Bethany want the very best for their students. That meant thinking afresh about every aspect of making learning even better. Their fresh ideas already are world class; I’m deeply impressed and can’t wait to see now where this takes the whole community.” Professor Stephen Heppell