Spotlight on St John’s RC Primary School

St John's Primary_6

I visited St John’s RC Primary in March to hear how they were finding their new school building, the first primary in Edinburgh to be designed with agile spaces to support active learning.

Headteacher Jackie Kelly talked to me about the great new learning spaces and I was keen to find out from the learners what they thought too.

Since then, the school has inspired the staff and learners of Victoria Primary who have been taking part in engagement sessions to design their new school.

Check out the updated write up of St John’s Primary to find out more.


Future Schools Project Award Workshop

The City of Edinburgh Council logo

Stage 2 of the Future Schools Project Award kicked off with a workshop on Monday 26 August. Our five finalists, Broughton High, St Cuthbert’s Primary, Corstorphine Primary, Murrayburn Primary and St John Vianney’s Primary chose five learners to attend with a teacher. These groups are going to lead the project throughout stage 2 and had been selected for their hard work already on stage 1 of the competition.

The learners arrived with eager anticipation, ready to find out what they had to do for the next stage of the competition. 

We spoke to the finalists about what we were looking for from them in stage 2. For the first part of the competition they told us:

How changing the design of a space in their school or nursery would improve teaching and learning, inclusivity and wellbeing for user(s) they had identified.

More information about stage 1

3 groups of learners chatting to professionals about their designsMaking their solution into a design that works

At the workshop we had a 15 minute info-dash where the schools had 15 minutes each with a professional to get advice about their ideas and how they can make their solution fit the brief for stage 2.

Some of the finalists already had a design solution in mind at stage 1 but after speaking with the experts and understanding the brief for stage 2, they began to re-imagine what they had planned; prioritising certain elements and being creative with their design solutions.

Thank you to our six experts who gave up their time to come and talk through the designs with the finalists. We invited professionals from specific backgrounds to give the schools insight into the areas we are asking them to focus on for their entry.

a group of high school students and their teachers sit around a table talking

Settings for Learning: Lesley Riddell Robertson and David Fletcher from Architecture & Design Scotland. Lesley and David gave advice on how to evaluate the spaces they have, test ideas and plan spaces for new approaches to learning and teaching.




A group of primary school students are writing and talking to a professional

Pedagogy, Learning and Teaching: Janice Watson from CEC Quality Improvement Team. Janice spoke about different ways teachers can teach and learners can learn. Janice gave advice on how they might consider how people will use the environment and how it can improve learning and teaching.


primary children sit around a table full of designs

Interior Design: Lesley McMillan from CEC Interior Design Team. Lesley gave advice on considering how furniture and decoration can help to meet the needs of their project to help to solve the problem they identified. Also how you can use interior design to improve wellbeing and inclusivity.



children sit around a table discussing their design with a professional

Technology: Jenni Robertson from CEC Quality Improvement Team. Jenni gave advice on how they might consider the use of technology in their design, Jenni advised on the practicalities of their ideas and an understanding of what is possible in our schools.




children sit around a table talking about their design

Outdoor spaces: Andrew Bagnall from CEC Outdoor Learning Team. Andrew gave advice on how they can improve learning and teaching in the outdoors. He spoke about practical solutions for creating outdoor spaces that are inclusive and promote wellbeing



children talk to a professional about their design

Communication & Presentation: Neil Maguire,  After the News. Neil gave advice on how to present their submission, focusing on the story they want to tell, clear communication strategies, and considerations when producing their 2-minute film.



The learners brought their submissions from stage 1 to discuss with the experts and were wonderfully engaged and focused on the project and feedback they were getting.

It was a lot of information to take in over two hours and everyone did really well keeping focused and enthusiastic. It was then time for the schools to take a breather, absorb the information, gather their thoughts and discuss what they had learned in their groups. It was also a good opportunity to ask the professionals to join them in their discussions.

Next steps

Now the schools plan to take what they learned in the workshop back to their peers and develop their plans further.

We wish them all the best, the submission deadline is 8th November and the learners will be displaying their submissions at the the Education Buildings Scotland Conference on the 27th November where the winner will be decided.

Keep up to date with the competition by following us on Twitter @futureschoolsed and #futureschoolsprojectaward

Future Schools Project Award stage 1 finalists

We received 14 fabulous entries for Stage 1 of our Future Schools Project Award competition. We have now chosen five finalists that we will work with to focus their ideas in Stage 2 of the competition after the summer holidays. 

A short summary of what we asked for

We asked all City of Edinburgh Council schools and nurseries to tell us a story about how changing the design of a space in your school or nursery would improve teaching and learning, inclusivity and wellbeing for the different people you want to help.

We asked for you to show us:

  • What? The problem you want to solve.
  • Who? The variety of people affected by the problem
  • How? Your solution to the problem through a change in the learning environment or how it’s used. How that solution impacts the people you identified.
  • Why? Your research and reasoning. Look at the judging criteria and the information on this page to see what you should include.

We were also looking for submissions that are creative, well researched, well presented and show collaborative working:

  • How are you going to tell us your story? Be Creative
  •  We want to see the thinking behind your ideas. Research
  • Your research can be part of your story or you can submit it separately. Consider Presentation
  • Only one entry per school or nursery. Work Together

The competition was high. The amount of research, collaboration and information gathering from the entries amazed us. The learners threw themselves into this project and came up with some great ideas. Presentation of the entries was very creative, it was great to see so many different ways of telling your stories and we were glad to see so many entries created by the learners.

There were videos, presentations, a story book, a rap, reports, models, moodboards and lots and lots of drawings!

We have included some images of each of the finalists’ work and will talk with the schools about whether we can share their video entries.

The finalists

Broughton High

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Learners at Broughton High went to incredible depth in their research for their idea of having an environmental outdoor classroom in their school grounds. The purpose is to provide a tranquil, welcoming space that improves well being.

Corstorphine Primary

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Corstorphine Primary are dreaming of an outdoor play space that brings nature into their playground. Their learners, staff and families have been involved in a lot of  well documented research with the aim to meet the needs of all their children with a natural solution to a lack of nature play in their school grounds.

St Cuthbert’s RC Primary

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

St Cuthbert’s Primary are focusing on changing their library space which is a multipurpose area, they submitted a short film that showed the learners interviewing what seemed to be everyone in the school. The learners showed how much they had researched and explained to us their findings and ideas for improvements. They showed us how they would meet the needs of the people using the space in their plans.

St John Vianney Primary

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

St John Vianney’s Primary chose a room in their school called the AV room which is multipurpose and has to meet many different user needs. They submitted lots of learner designs of the space and a movie created by the learners where they interviewed the different people who use the room to gather ideas for improving the space.

Murrayburn Primary

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Murrayburn Primary are re-imagining an unused space in their school into a practical STEAM room to meet their learners needs for exciting and active learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths. They created an entertaining video where the learners told us all about their aspirations for STEAM and their research into studies about how active learning improves learning outcomes.

Congratulations to all five finalists!

Details of Stage 2 will be announced in June.

stage 1, tell us a story include empathy for people in your story, define the problem and what the people's needs are and then come up with ideas for how to help the people. Five finalists will go on to stage 2 where they will design a learning environment, one winner will get their design created in their school or nursery

lightbulbHats off to all our schools who took part!

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us in the competition, we loved seeing your entries and know how hard you all worked on this.

Unfortunately we can only take five entries to Stage 2 of the competition and it the quality of the submissions made it very difficult to choose only five. If you didn’t get chosen for Stage 2 don’t be discouraged. If you decide to pursue your ideas to make better environments into a reality we would love to share your progress with everyone here on the blog and our Twitter feed @FutureSchoolsEd.

We hope you enjoyed the challenge and learned a lot about your environment and how you can make changes that improve the experience for the people who use it.

Big thanks to Blackhall, Buckstone, Dalry, East Craigs, Flora Stevenson, Gracemount, James Gillespie’s, Sighthill and Stockbridge Primaries for all your hard work!

Here are some snippets of your submissions. 

images from the 9 schools who were not finalists in the competition, there are palettes, models, moodboards, research pages, plans for classrooms, photos and diagrams

Spotlight on Trinity Primary

the length of the classroom, on the left are groupings of triangular tables and on the right is a high standing workbench with high stools

The Pavilion 

The new pavilion building at Trinity Primary School is an agile learning space where three teachers have embraced a new way of working together as a collaborative team.

They teach 74 primary sevens as a year group rather than having them as three separate classes.

Check out what the teachers and pupils think on the Trinity Primary page.

We have much more independence and freedom than our last classroom, you can move anywhere.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I have learned how important the learning environment is in relation to pupil engagement and enjoyment in learning within an upper primary setting.

Featured: St Margaret’s RC Primary School

The City of Edinburgh Council logo

the general purpose room has different seating areas, a few upturned barrels make work surfaces and are in keeping with the nautical theme, there are rock shaped dividers. The back wall is decorated with the three bridges of Queensferry

We have been working with Karen Ramsay and Lesley McMillan in our interior design team to trial our future classroom ideas at St Margaret’s RC Primary School in South Queensferry.

The staff and pupils at St Margaret’s have been really engaged in designing their own space and thinking about what would help them use their classrooms in the way they want. They have been using their experimental P6 classroom design to inform their research.

The design of the new classrooms has been led by the pupil’s suggestions.

For more information check out the St Margaret’s RC Primary School page.