We have been working with our interior design team to trial our future classroom ideas at St Margaret’s RC Primary School in South Queensferry.
The staff and learners 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 learner’s suggestions and we have asked staff and learners to complete a questionnaire about their previous space with a plan to compare it with their views on their new space a year later in May 2019.
During the consultation with learners some ideas were coming up multiple times or along similar themes. Wanting to represent a sense of identity for the school was raised and design suggestions around the sea, fish, boats and coral reefs. Blue was also a favourite colour, this together with the importance of school’s identity with St Margaret and their local area inspired a design centred on the story of Saint Margaret’s journey to South Queensferry.
With the inspiration of the story of St Margaret and representations from the local area each classroom was given it’s own theme.
- St Margaret’s cave has been represented in the general purpose room as a library area
- the Forth Sea and Fingals cave classes represent her journey across the sea
- The boat in the general purpose space represents the shipwreck on the journey
- The Shell Bed and Ferry Glen classes represent the land and identify with local areas
The classrooms were given new names to represent these places and to promote collaborative working between classes without labelling classes by stage.
Here are some photos of the learning environments before and after the refurbishment.
General purpose room before and after
The general purpose space was cluttered and didn’t work well as a break out area. The new space has been cleared and well defined activity zones have been introduced with flexibility for the staff and learners to move the furniture around as their requirements change. A collaborative learning boat makes a fun place for the children to learn and the nooks are a great place for independent working.
Ferry Glen classroom before and after
The Ferry Glen classroom is currently being used by primary one. Many of the furnishings are inspired by the new Edinburgh nursery class designs with an aim to ease the transition between nursery and primary.
The Ferry Glen is a natural wooded pathway that is nearby the school. Taking inspiration from this the classroom features the natural colours of greens and wooden furnishings.
Shell Beds classroom before and after
The Shell Beds classroom is currently being used by primary two and three as a team teaching class. The Shell Beds is a local beach and the room has been given a seaside theme.
Swapping between classrooms
The Fingals and Forth Sea classes have been designed to be shared between classes for their desired activity.
- The Fingals class has been furnished for literacy and numeracy activities with more of a focus on flexible chairs and tables.
- The Forth Sea class has been furnished for collaborative work with with more of a focus on comfortable breakout seating to allow learners to get into small groups for discussion.
Forth Sea classroom before and after
This classroom has multiple zones for different activities and the flexible furniture allows the room to be used in many ways. The room has a blue wall that has been designed as a ‘green screen’ to film in front of allowing removal of the background.
Fingals Cave classroom before and after
This classroom has two fun nooks on the wall where learners can enjoy doing some independent work in a comfortable hideaway. The space has triangle tables that can join up to make different shaped work surfaces.
The consultation process
The children had a workshop with the School Estate Planning and Interior Design team where they discussed design ideas and shared their own thoughts with us to put their stamp on the school.
Colour and fabric choice was discussed with the most popular colour choices from the students being:
gold : blue : black : copper : purple : green
We were surprised with gold being a firm favourite but understand the colour has very positive feelings for children as a sign of achievement and being special. We made sure there was some gold in the decoration and you can see it painted in the interior of the cloakrooms in the general purpose space and a few pops of gold can be found around the new space.
Some of the children’s notes from the workshop
The learners did a lot of work in the workshops with us and in class. The learners who were in P6 during 2017/18 enjoyed the benefit of a newly refurbished classroom that year and were able to lead the learner engagement by doing presentations and gathering learner’s views on what they like about their learning environment and what they think could be a challenge. You can read more about the refurbishment of that classroom further down the page.
We have collated learner feedback we received and have highlighted the suggestions and comments that have influenced the new design.
We also had some great feedback and suggestions from the school staff.
Pilot primary 6 classroom
The interior design team designed an experimental classroom for the P6’s in 2017 to trial some of the innovative furniture and layout inspired by the work of Professor Stephen Heppell, Phoebe Caldwell, Architecture Design Scotland and the Inspiring Learning Spaces project.
Ahead of the larger scale refurbishment at St Margaret’s RC Primary School for 2018, we developed an experimental classroom to trial a variety of furniture types for the P6’s.
The Interior Design Team incorporated the same key space elements as in their other future school projects at Trinity and Cramond primary schools.
Learners Consultation for the Primary 6 classroom
Consultation with learners has been a huge contributor throughout the design process at St Margaret’s RC Primary School. We carried out a workshop with the learners to allow them to design their new space. They chose:
- high back sofas
- mobile tables
- chairs with castors
- upholstered stools
- high tables
- stools to sit or stand at
- a reading corner with beanbags
The designers introduced muted colours to create a calm feel to the space along with more vinyl flooring than carpet to allow for messy activities to take place in the space. Carpet was introduced to the reading corner and gathering point for extra comfort when sitting on the floor.
After the installation of the new furniture, we revisited the school to find out what worked and what doesn’t work. The learners were all generally very positive about the space and really enjoyed the new furniture types.
They felt that the variety of spaces to work in and freedom to choose the area that suited the mood or activity was positive as was the ability to move the individual tables and chairs around.
- Flexibility to choose seating type
- Room within a room – high backed sofas created a quiet space to focus or work in
- Chairs with castors allow for movement for all learners to fidget rather than providing special chairs that singled out individuals.
- Colours created a calming feel to the space.
- Extra screens for audio visual display.
- The layout and variety of seating types provide the opportunity for freedom of movement and quiet retreat so it is now hard to spot learners with additional support needs.
- Triangle tables were restrictive for activities such as art due to their size and their inability to form a large continuous surface.
- The whiteboard walls felt too stark – it would be preferred if more colour was introduced through a mixture of pinboards and whiteboard walls.
- High backed sofas are heavy and not easily moved -adding castors to these
would increase flexibility.
- Wobble stools were being used incorrectly – instructions for furniture use required.
- Having the carpet areas fixed to the floor could be restrictive and would prefer a more flexible solution such as a rug.
- Additional Audio Visual screens for display and collaboration were not used correctly for several months due to issues with network connectivity and lack of training around full benefits of new interactive screen.