Monday, 30 May 2011

Advice to free schools

I have been working with a variety of free schools, supporting them in the application process.  There are so many things to think about when you are starting your own school or converting to free school status.  I make sure my advice on the education premises links with the vision, education strategy and affordability to create a robust, holistic proposal.  I think one of the most impressive parts of working with these groups is the collaboration and personal dedication involved - that to develop an excellent school proposal we need to keep learning ourselves and building on our understanding of what it means to be a 21st century school.  An important lesson for all school groups...

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Working with Astudio

For the past few months, I have been working with Astudio, an architecture practice based in Waterloo.  This young practice is innovative in their approach to design and sustainability, and in five years, has already been listed for the Young Architects of the Year Award.  I am working with the practice in a strategic role - carrying out research for one of their school clients and also helping to develop their work in the education sector.

At the moment, Astudio is working on a variety of Building for the Future and Academies projects - including two new academies in Richmond for Kunskapsskolan.  They are definitely a practice to watch!

Hampton Academy and Twickenham Academy have both received planning approval 

JCoSS's formal opening!

JCoSS, the first parent promoted voluntary aided school, will be having its formal opening in June - in just a few weeks.  Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove will be leading the formal opening. I am looking forward to attending and seeing my former client and colleagues to celebrate this momentus occasion.  

It took nearly ten years to plan, design and construct this school, but I am pleased to say that JCoSS is hugely successful and is already oversubscribed.  It will be great to see how the students have settled in since my visits to the school in the Autumn when the school year began.

The entrance plaza at JCoSS

Places and spaces

In March, Places and Spaces had our quarterly gathering at Linton Ross's newly renovated home just outside Bath.  We've met in each other's homes to catch up on the latest news in the education field, and to see what each other is working on.  I am quite intimidated by the other member's cooking skills - Linton served a lovely lunch and the weather in Bath was perfect that day.

Our next meeting will be in Sheffield in June where we will be seeing one of the first parent-promoted schools in their completed building.  Forge Valley School was carried out as part of the Building Schools for the Future programme.  The physical building is an important part of bringing two different communities together from opposite sides of the Valley.  I advised on the design review back in the summer of 2009, and therefore am quite keen to see how it all turned out!

Presentation at the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching

In January I was invited to speak at the International Conference at the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching at Newcastle University which will be held in July.  The conference is entitled 'School Buildings: achieving productive relationships between school settings and educational activities.'

I will be speaking on 'Secondary school design: successful places for learning in the age of austerity.'  Keynote speakers include Professor Peter Blundell Jones and Rosie Parnell.  It should be a fascinating day with participants from all over the world - hope to see you there.

The Crest Academies - a winning design

Between January and March 2011, I was closely involved in the writing of Wates and Capita's winning bid for The Crest Academies in Brent which is sponsored by E-ACT.  This is an exciting opportunity for the boys and girls academies to have modern learning facilities that support the academy's unique pedagogy.  In addition, the buildings will be set in an urban parkland landscape, which will be an asset for the whole community.

Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts

In March I was invited to join the Royal Society for the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in London, based on my work with learning spaces.  This is a world-renowned organisation that promotes enlightened thinking and social progress.  I enjoyed my first event - led by Andrew Marr and Richard Layard on 'happiness.' I'm very much looking forward to getting involved with the RSA.

Here's a great video from the RSA.  Ken Robinson discusses changing paradigms in education.  

Design advice for Compton Schools

In December, I was invited by Compton Education Ltd. to be a part of their strategic advisory team for new schools.  Compton Education is supporting existing schools and new schools in India and other parts of Asia to provide excellence in education.  I will be providing design advice to make sure that their school environments support their model of learning with high-quality spaces and facilities - and that they are of excellent value.  I will be visiting India in the next few months to meet some of the schools there, and support them with ideas and advice on their design projects.

Workshop for schools about learning spaces

In March, I led a workshop at the UJIA with Gleeds advisory on school refurbishment.  The participants included free schools, existing schools and new schools who are planning to refurbish or extend their building.  The workshop was divided into four sections, focusing first on faith identity in design, then 21st century learning environments, then strategies for planning out the school and then finally examples of good school refurbishments.  We had excellent feedback, and have been talking with some of the schools on putting these principles into action in their upcoming school projects.

Recent news

It's been a busy several months since I launched my company website. The last few months have been busier than ever, and I haven't had a chance to update it with my latest news. So I thought that it would be useful to use this blog to let you know about the many different projects that I have been involved with recently, and the events that are coming up.  I intend to update my website in due course.