Trinity Primary School

The Pavilion 2018

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.

I was amazed at the freedom the children had to move and work where they wanted to, the classroom was lively and buzzing with activity. I could see that the children were engaged in their work and were doing different activities or the same thing in different ways. The write on cupboards were really well used and the classroom felt lived in but organised. As you can see in the photographs the children’s work brings most of the colour into the decoration of this classroom.

a girl prepares to move her triangular table to face the teacher

The Scottish Futures Trust visited Trinity Primary School to see the pavilion and talk to the learners and staff to find out what about the successes, challenges and any words of advice they could offer other schools. You can view their video of Trinity Primary School as part of eight case studies on the Scottish Futures Trust website.

There was a genuine enthusiasm for the space and how it was being used by the teachers, they said:

We came into this classroom after being in a traditional style classroom last year, it’s a really different way of working and we have found that we have to be organised and work well as a team, planning is really important. There are pros and cons of the new learning environment, the furniture is fab but the acoustics are not great so it can be challenging when we have two teachers teaching at once, as the noise can carry and it can be hard to concentrate. To resolve this we try to work in smaller groups and work out what we’re going to do each day but we think that it’s great that the children have the benefit of having three different teachers.

The writeable surfaces we have in the room are great and we use them all the time, we have writeable tables and cupboard doors that surround the interactive boards which we really like to use. The storage cupboards are great, we have so much storage, though we would find it useful if we had a deeper cupboard to use also, as the one we have is being used for storing cleaning equipment. One challenge is the cloak room which can get quite messy.

We like the movable tables and chairs as they can be easily put into different groupings to adapt the layout to what you’re teaching. It’s really good that the pupils can choose where they want to learn and how they want to learn and this new classroom helps us do that. The way the classroom is furnished is great for focus teaching in smaller groups, the children really like the new classroom they enjoy relaxing on the beanbags but sometimes they can get a bit too relaxed!

The technology is great, we love the AV screens and have a few smaller TV screens in collaboration areas around the room but we’re having a few set up issues with these so we’re not using the technology to its full potential yet.

Having the whole year group learning together has really helped the pupils’ wellbeing. They have a bigger group of children to make friendships in and that’s a real benefit because when they’re split into different classes some children don’t find someone they bond with, now there’s more choice and more inclusion.

One of our learners who as additional support needs had a workstation in the traditional classroom last year and he needed a lot of time and support but in this new classroom he appears to be flourishing. The design and way we use the space is much more inclusive, it allows freedom to move to wherever you want to and this seems to have helped. 

Three girls sit at a bank of desks shaped like a hexagon

The learners were very positive and practical about how they found their new classroom, they said:

It’s great to have a carpeted area to relax and read in comfort and for groups to sit down on.

a comfy area of the classroom with a green carpet and round green grey sofas.

We like to be able to move to somewhere quiet if we want to.

the children work in different working zones in the room. a boy stands at the standing table beside two boys who are sitting on the high chairs. other children are sitting at triangular tables

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

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

We like the whiteboard tables, they’re great for making notes easily without having to get up.

five girls sit at a hexagonal table. two are working on ipads and three on paper

The triangular tables are great for being able to work on your own and in a group, I can just move the desk I’m sitting at to turn to face the teacher.

three children talk to their teacher, the TV screen has work on it and the whiteboard cupboards have notes on them

When everyone is in the building we don’t feel like there are enough tables for everyone. The soft seating and floor are good for using iPads but aren’t good to do writing and maths.

four children gather in the comfy area

I think it’s better than the old classroom because there’s more space though it can be a bit more distracting. I like having more freedom and I like using the whiteboard tables.

two boys work together by the window a screen with holes in it gives a feeling of privacy

Reflections from Ms Watt

I have spent the last two years teaching in two different agile learning spaces at Trinity. Prior to this, I taught in a more traditional style classroom. Reflecting on these experiences, I have learned how important the learning environment is in relation to pupil engagement and enjoyment in learning within an upper primary setting. 

The new space allows for a more creative and fluid approach to teaching and learning. We have been focusing on ensuring that learners have as much freedom and choice as possible in their learning, whilst also ensuring they have a good understanding of the tasks set and our expectations. 

We have been very lucky this year to be issued with 20 iPads, we also encourage children to ‘bring your own device’ to school. We are developing digital literacy in P7 and offer more varied tasks to our learners. Whilst it took some time to launch Apple TV in our new space, we now feel that we are using this digital tool to support and enhance learning. For example, the pupils have experienced using the screens when working on shared documents or apps during group work.

We also use Apple TV to cast information up quickly and easily to the board. We would like to develop this further by exploring more functions and features of our interactive teaching boards. 

As a P7 team, Matthew, Joanna and myself have tried to incorporate a zoning approach to learning and teaching. A traditional classroom is often laid out in a way that promotes more of a whole class direct teaching approach, whereas our space has a range of areas to suit different types of learners and tasks. We have to consider the environment when we plan, as often the activity dictates the zones.

We have also encouraged learner voice as the children are able to articulate where they learn best and like to discuss which zone they feel is best suited for certain tasks.

We have developed independent learning this year,this has given class teachers more time to work with pupils in smaller focused teaching groups. This promotes a more positive interaction as pupils have an opportunity to engage in quality discussions and learn from peers. 

Our P7 pupils have really bonded as a year group this year. Many have developed new friendships and have really benefited from having more than one class teacher. The P7s have really enjoyed using the new furniture and feel that the space is a more calm, open and enjoyable space to learn.

Whole year group teaching between two styles of learning spaces

Trinity Primary School redesigned two classrooms which were used by P7 at the time in 2017. The two classes share both spaces and use them for different activities so they wanted each room to be different. The Interior Design team worked with the school to achieve their vision.

“Overall, we are delighted with our new learning spaces. The different types of furniture and creative layout of the space supports independent learning and provides excellent opportunities for collaboration. Having a classroom designed for the 21st century is allowing us to equip our learners with the necessary skills for learning, life and work.” – Jacqueline Scott, Headteacher

The new P7 inspiring learning spaces were designed in collaboration with the learners, staff our Interior Design team. The two new learning zones and breakout space is shared across the age group and has been designed to support their forward thinking learning and teaching style.

The space is one of the first to be designed in this way in our City of Edinburgh schools. Many other schools in Edinburgh have visited the space for inspiration and to see the new layout in action as the learning and teaching style is active and learner centred.

In a typical school day, learners are given tasks and find a space to work that suits their learning style, tasks and needs. The traditional furniture they previously had did not provide the opportunity to create the spaces the learners and staff were seeking. The design team worked with the school to create two rooms that would enhance their learning and teaching style.

The ideas and plans for the spaces 

Trinity P7 classrooms design

Consultation with learners

The learners wanted a flexible space that would accommodate a variety of seating types
such as:

  • beanbags
  • sofas
  • chairs with castors
  • mobile tables with writable surfaces
  • quiet spaces
  • safe spaces
  • advanced technology

The design team also looked to accommodate elements that provided an inclusive approach to the learning environment through the use of the castor chairs that allow for movement, the safe space in the sofas that all children can enjoy without singling out any learners that require these elements to cope in the learning environment.

The wonderful new learning spaces

Each zone has a muted grey background with pops of colour for inspiration. Getting the
balance right of under and over stimulation is being tried and tested in our experimental classrooms. Learners want colour however too much can be distracting.

The design team have created a sophisticated space that echoes the style of furniture and spaces that could be found in the workplace.

A New Trend in Pinboards

Acoustic wall boarding was used as pinboards to create the essential display area. These pinboards look like a piece of art when not in use, removing the requirement for teachers to cover up unsightly pinboards with coloured paper. The different colours provide sections for different projects removing the desire to add frilly borders and giving  a more sophisticated appearance.

The green zone

  • Comfy cushions
  • Flexible interactive screen
  • Different seating areas for various activities, beanbags, workbench and a group table
  • the interactive screen can be used horizontally
  • Collaboration area in a booth

The blue zone

  • New style pin boarding in blue grey and beige
  • rows of chairs with flip over writing tables
  • Collaboration zones with different furniture
  • cafe style seating, a workbench, a square table and a circular booth

The blue zone has tablet chairs with castors, high backed sofas, large bench
collaboration tables, three levels of seating: high, low and mid. A muted
colour scheme, acoustic wall and floor coverings and the flexibility to allow learners to
create their own work space.

Staff and learners share the space and work collaboratively across the year group sharing the zones and resources. Additional audio visual screens create multiple points of view so that the teacher can teach from anywhere in the room. These screens also allow casting from an iPad for digital display and sharing work.

The breakout space

The space between the classrooms is being used as a breakout space for collaborative work.

  • stools and comfy booth seating
  • a TV is on the wall in the centre of the booth to view while seated

The display screen is used as a digital display of learner’s work and is well placed for the learners or teacher to cast digital content from an iPad.

New Technology

This is the first time that the interior design team has installed a flip top interactive screen that can be used vertically like a standard screen or horizontally like an interactive table.

  • the interactive screen can be used horizontally
  • Flexible interactive screen at Trinity Primary School

The children and staff love their new learning zones as they feel “happy and calm” in
the space, and are benefiting from increased attainment.

If learners are happy and comfortable in their environment they will be more open to learning.

Trinity Primary School are leading the way in the City of Edinburgh Council Future Schools with many other schools visiting to see the space in action. This active style approach to the learning space is building the skills of the Trinity learners to be independent learners.

The Primary One learning Zone

Trinity Primary School’s Primary 1 space was completed in summer 2017 with a very similar concept as Cramond Primary School. This is what the classroom looked like before.

This is what the classroom looked like after refurbishment.

  • Flexible tables that split into individual tables or join up into different shapes
  • Comfy nook seat
  • Display boards with pictures displayed
  • a teaching wall and comfy seats

The P1 learning zone across three rooms were transformed to introduce a natural feel through biophilic design. Acoustic flooring and pinboards with nature inspired carpets and rugs in the quiet spaces were introduced.

The muted colour scheme throughout and reduction of over stimulation has given a calming feel to the space and the learners and staff have responded well to this.

The three new rooms are shared by teaching staff and learners. This was a big change for the school as the teachers no longer had their own room. The Headteacher’s vision and the teacher’s great team work ensured the refurbishment and changes were a success.

Sharing three spaces also reduced the need to replicate resources across three rooms which delivered a cost saving in the school’s budget while providing three different environments to inspire the learners on a daily basis.

The learning literacy lounge, the art zone and the numeracy zone were the three spaces that were created. The Earth, Air, Fire and Water concept underpinned the design to ensure the design team created spaces within each zone that suited the varying learner needs and learning styles.

The City of Edinburgh Council logo

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