We are at a pivotal point in the consideration of future learning environments. The pandemic has accelerated our need to acknowledge this as a catalytic opportunity. One of the risks presented by the challenging and ever-changing future that awaits our young people is the need both to enable and equip each person to meet those challenges and the need to promote and strengthen community engagement and collaboration.
Following on from a Places for Learning event in 2018, Hub East Central have been supporting a programme of workshops intended to further the conversation around the schools estate strategy, ambition & aspiration for learning in the future.
Facilitated by Professor Stephen Heppell, Architecture & Design Scotland, Scottish Futures Trust, SPACE Strategies & Hub East Central, local authorities have sought to explore their aspirations for learning in the 21st Century & beyond, either in response to specific questions or as part of a high level strategic overview.
Clackmannanshire Council’s overarching ambition includes fostering more independence and resilience in learners. This involves creating an educational environment which is adaptive and connected and one which creates a change in the perceptions of learning by steering towards blended learning.
In 2019, participants from Clackmannanshire Council explored a number of questions within the context of their school estate and the potential re-imagining of an Alloa South campus. Key outcomes from engagement with students in the morning session fed into discussions.The challenge identified was to explore the potential for an Alloa South Campus (encompassing Park & St Mungo’s Primary Schools, Nursery & Early Years & the Primary Pupil Support Service) to investigate innovative approaches not yet identified.
A workshop held in 2016 with the educationalist Professor Stephen Heppell provided significant influence. He believes in learners as researchers within intergenerational relationships and that improved environmental design in places of learning has a direct effect on achievement and well-being. The workshop concluded that there was a need to strengthen and support partnerships within Alloa and beyond on a more global scale. Tactical changes such as light, writable surfaces, C02 and an abundance of plants were identified as easily achievable goals.
Keppie’s illustration provides an articulation of a ‘Vision’ for a future Learning Campus on an existing education site in Alloa. An integrated 3-18 years masterplan of education facilities responds to a future learning environment in line with Keppie’s own Future Learning Environments document, and in the spirit of recent lectures by Professor Stephen Heppell.
The concept embodies a substantial, open, and permeable campus, with multi-agency community facilities and local employers drawn onto that environment: public library, police station, health centre. This would be a pivotal hub around which – and on which – the community functions. There would be a constant flow of adults through the campus enjoying and participating in those community functions. To a significant extent though, this ‘extended’ school absorbs resources from the surrounding community leaving less infrastructure outside the school.
Education in its fullest sense would become central to the community of Alloa’s identity, growth and future.