Flexibility and Time

If teachers don’t have time to make flexibility happen, a learning environment isn’t flexible. This post proposes a breakdown into 4 types of flexibility based on the temporal (& other) resources users need.

An image from Ngram Viewer showing relative trends in the words 'education' and 'learning' between 1800 and 2008

This post explores changes in the words used to talk about education and shows some data from Google’s Ngram Viewer indicating how words like ‘education’, ‘learning’, ‘classroom’ and ‘learning space’ become more or less popular over time.

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INSPIRE is a celebration of the RIBA National Schools Programme to be held at the Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD on Friday 1 July at 2pm.  The event will feature Baroness Doreen Lawrence as a special guest. The programme of events for the afternoon is as follows: 2pm Welcome […]

Thinking about some of the differences between school-building programmes in Australia, England and Italy got me wondering – what would you want in an ideal school-building programme? Here’s a personal wish-list though I’d welcome suggestions. It’s unfinished and I’ll probably return to it – I think there’s much more to be said, especially about how […]

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Ruth Taylor was born in London, England and attended schools in Surrey and Buckinghamshire. Prior to studying Architecture at University of Westminster she studied English Literature and Language at University of Liverpool followed by four years working for an investment bank. Before joining SCABAL, as a Senior architect in 2008, she worked with Cottrell & […]

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Should schools have cosy, secluded spaces for children? The architect Herman Hertzberger thinks so. His ‘little library,” is one example: a small space beneath a staircase*, furnished with a single, child-scaled chair that offers an inviting, secluded space without prescribing exactly how the space should be used. In Space and Learning (2008), Hertzberger’s text about […]

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As a collaborative* doctoral research student in the field of architecture and education, I’m often asked to explain what my research is about. I’m always surprised by how much my answer changes according to who I’m talking to, when and where we’re talking and how I’m feeling about what I’m reading and writing at the […]

Hounslow Heath infants school. 
Photograph by Jon Exley, September 2015.

Jennifer Singer is an architect and education design advisor. She has collaborated with students, teachers, parents, contractors, local authorities, government bodies, developers and others on the design of nurseries, primary schools and secondary schools throughout the UK. Originally from Philadelphia, USA, Jennifer is based in London.   Tell me about an early school. I lived […]

Golborne High School - by a railway station somewhere near Runcorn

Last year I wrote a post on how – if architects wanted to get involved with facilitating a market economy of publicly-funded schooling – some of their thinking could have quite pernicious effects. It was sparked by an article in the Architects’ Journal: ‘As schools behave more like private businesses they will be in competition […]

A classroom in my primary school.

Lina Iordanaki is from Piraeus in Greece. Her first degree was in Primary Education and her master’s degree in Literature at the University of Athens. She is currently a 3rd-year PhD student in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge. Her research areas include picturebooks, graphic novels, literacy and poetry for children. Her […]

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Over the past three years, an innovative collaborative research partnership, funded by the AHRC has been established between the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge and SCABAL architecture studio, London. The partnership is entitled ‘Creative Discipline: exploring the value of design in building high quality schools supporting excellence in teaching and learning.’ Three […]

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Monday 20th June 2016, University of Nottingham Keynote Speaker: Professor Stephen Daniels (University of Nottingham) Imagined spaces are engaged with on a daily basis, whether they be in the novels we read, the news reports we hear, or in the forthcoming development posters we see around our towns and cities. These imagined spaces are multiple […]

Posted on behalf of Ksenia Fiaduta (University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain) Call for Panel Participants (Graduate Students) “Education and Architecture: Historical Perspectives” I am currently seeking panellists for “Education and Architecture: Historical Perspectives” for the History of Education Society 2016 Conference to be held November 3-6 in Providence (RI, USA). The panel is intended for […]

Detail of Herman Hertzberger's 2010 Scuola Petrocelli, La Romanina, Rome.

In early February the Italian government’s Ministry of Education, Universities and Research published some of the details of a ‘Competition of ideas for the realisation of innovative schools’. It’s open to any professionally recognised architect or engineer in the EU. I’ve translated Article 2 of the decree law that sets up the competition because I […]

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Adrian Leaman runs Building Use Studies and leads the educational and dissemination activities of the Usable Buildings Trust, a UK educational charity with the aim of promoting information about buildings in use from technical and human perspectives. He has had a long interest in built space and its organisation and is keen that future design […]

Helen Taylor

Helen Taylor is Practice Director at Scott Brownrigg, responsible for the strategic planning and implementation of programmes to enhance technical competence and expertise across the whole company. As well as specialising in education design, Helen is committed to sustainability, diversity and inclusive design. She is well-recognised through her collaboration with industry bodies and is a […]

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In 1811, Joseph Lancaster publishes his Hints and Directions for Building, Fitting Up, and Arranging School Rooms, one of the key triggers for the idea of a modern school building and a legacy-leaving document that affects how we think of schools today and perhaps even the fact that we can think of schools today. Just […]

Staircase, extended primary school, Arnhem

Herman Hertzberger, born in Amsterdam in 1932, is one of the world’s pre-eminent architects. He founded Architectuurstudio HH in 1960 and continues to run this thriving practice in the centre of Amsterdam. Best known for his designs of cultural buildings, housing complexes, offices and schools, he is also a prolific writer and teacher. His books, include […]

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A space for learning: developing interdisciplinary understandings to improve school premises  Where: Newcastle University, Doctoral Training Suite, Floor 5 Daysh Building. When: Thursday 3rd March 2016, 4.45-7pm Speakers: Paula Cardellino; Pam Woolner; Prof Prue Chiles; Prof David Lent; Dr Rosie Parnell. Programme: 4.30 – 4.45pm: Tea and coffee on arrival 4.45 – 6.00pm: Welcome and introductions to our […]

Weighty Architecture

You’re in a building. (And if you’re not, just pretend your app/software or whatever is a building anyway, it kind of is.) Does this building you’re in: Dictate what you do Choreograph what you do Shape what you do Influence what you do Suggest what you do Do nothing, I decide what I do None […]

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Anne Prendergast has spent 30 years in media and publishing and is currently media director at Strattons: a bespoke advertising and design agency specialising in luxury travel, fashion and interior decorating.  A graduate of Bristol University and the University of London she also is a new business consultant for Webpuzzle an innovative, digital content management […]

Hollymount Primary School, Raynes Park, refurbished by Haverstock, 2012

Irene Lindsay is the Assistant Head of a 2-form entry primary school in Raynes Park, London, which was refurbished by Haverstock Architects in 2012. She has been working in primary education as a teacher since she trained at Roehampton University in the early 2000s.  Before that she worked in music education while bringing up her four […]

The concrete slab was here (in red).

Tim Byrne is a writer and illustrator of books for children and young adults and a digital technology expert, currently a senior project manager at Macmillan cancer support.  He was a primary school teacher, ITC co-ordinator and gifted and talented advisor in schools in Lincolnshire and South West London between 1995 and 2008. He has […]

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An Architect and NRAC registered Access Consultant, Jane is the Director of her own company; Jane Simpson Access Ltd. She has over two decades of experience in inclusion and is noted for her knowledge of the educational sector. She provides advice on a broad range of issues, often clarifying complex aspects of the Equality Act […]

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Ola Uduku is Reader in Architecture and Dean International for Africa at Edinburgh University’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA). Her research specialisms are the history of educational architecture in Africa and contemporary issues related to social infrastructure provision for minority communities in cities in the ‘West’ and ‘South’. She is also involved in […]

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Shane Cryer manages the education sector in the UK and Ireland for Swedish acoustic experts, Ecophon. After a career in the construction industry, having studied building and property surveying, he now concentrates on building acoustics. Working closely with organisations such as The Institute of Acoustics (IOA) and the RIBA, Shane has been promoting the new […]

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The following is a list of things we learned during the Education Estates conference, held in Manchester on 10-11th November 2015. We’re not promising they’re all news to you and we’re still unsure what they might mean either now or in the future. We are not experts in building construction; we do have some knowledge […]

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On Tuesday 1st December, an event disseminating the findings from the Leverhulme Trust-funded project Designing with Children will be held at The Gallery, 75 Cowcross St, London, EC1M 6EL.  The programme for the evening is as follows: 18:30-19:00      Introduction & summary of research findings 19:00-19:45      Panel conversation 19:45-20:00      Questions and close 20:00-21:00      Drinks reception Speakers: Dr. […]

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I returned home from the Education Estates* conference in Manchester earlier this week with one question lodged firmly in my head: why are people so fixated on area in schools and not on cost? The question was asked at the very end of the conference in the final session just as the conference organisers began to […]

Does a school building need to look like a school

…is a question posed by the architect of the school where I’m doing my research. It came up in an interview over a year ago and has stuck with me ever since. Neither of us answered his question – the recording of the interview has us both umming and urring for the next 15 seconds. […]

Vitruvian triad Utilitas Socialitas Firmitas Venustas - Architecture as a social science too...

Architecture as a social science, architecture as a social science… Somehow it doesn’t seem like a natural fit but there’s not much that everywhere and always more powerfully places, joins, separates and patterns people, their groups and relations than the built spaces we live, work and learn in. That’s the social bit. And as for […]

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Bridget Murray attended primary schools in the late 1970s in Middlesborough, Hertfordshire and Basingstoke, Hampshire (UK) where she also went to secondary school.  After a degree in Computer Science at Warwick University, Bridget took a PGCE at the Institute of Education and taught in primary schools in London and Kent.  In the past five years […]

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John Dewey’s ‘Democracy and Education’ 100 years on: Past, present and future relevance: University of Cambridge, UK The call for papers closes tonight, January 15 2016 Please submit abstracts of up to 1000 words (plus up to 200 words for references). Please indicate whether you wish your submission to be considered as: a full paper (around 30 minutes […]

Groningen

The 7th annual History of Education Doctoral Summer School, which will take place at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, 9-12 June 2016.  Applications are invited from postgraduate students in the history of Education with an interest in the histories of educational spaces and discourses and new ways of working with images, artefacts, and archives. […]

Shopping Trolley

This worries me: As schools behave more like private businesses they will be in competition with one another to attract the best teachers and students. Architects can draw on their experience in the private sector to help them achieve this. It worries me because I think some of it (in England) is probably true. It […]

Following yesterday’s cheaper, faster … and better?  post, I must apologise for a lack of thoroughness in my research of the school building and maintenance section of the Gov.UK website.  At the time of writing I had only read one of the DfE’s latest press releases, dated 21st September 2015, about their Priority School’s Building […]

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A Victorian-era community primary has been rebuilt as a modern replacement primary academy in the West Midlands of England and the DfE puts out a press release to celebrate its opening. As a promotional puff for a new school, some of the language used initially strikes me as rather odd. The building is modern, boasting […]

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  Hedwig Heinsman is an architect who grew up in the Dutch Flevopolder and now lives and works in Amsterdam. One of the three co-founders of DUS architects, probably best known for their 3D Print Canal House, she is passionate about public and social architecture.  Hedwig is a graduate of Delft Technical University and the […]

Open house london

This year’s Open House London event, on 19th and 20th September 2015, offers visitors the opportunity to visit the interiors of more than fifty schools across the London boroughs for free. Here’s a link to the first of eight pages listing the details of the schools you can visit on one or both days.  Alternatively, […]

Estelle Morris

Estelle Morris, Baroness Morris of Yardley, former British secretary of state for Education and Skills (2001-2) taught PE and Humanities from the mid-1970s until 1992, when she was elected as Member of Parliament for Birmingham Yardley. In 2005 she joined the House of Lords as a Labour peer. What are your early memories of school? […]

St Mary's CofE primary school, Amersham

Sarah Cuthill is school librarian at Clifton High School in Bristol, England and has worked in archives and libraries in universities, the arts and business, both in the UK and in Australia. She began her school life in Buckinghamshire in the UK and then moved with her family to Switzerland at the age of ten. […]

Sheringham Primary school, Year 1 classroom

Sue Steggles was a pupil at John Scurr primary school, Bethnal Green in the East End of London in the 1960s. After attending grammar school, she trained to be a nursery nurse. Subsequently, she retrained as a primary school teacher and taught at Curwen primary school in Plaistow, Essex, Old Ford Primary in Bow, London […]

Source: "Vans rv-4 g-rviv arp" by Adrian Pingstone (Arpingstone) - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vans_rv-4_g-rviv_arp.jpg#/media/File:Vans_rv-4_g-rviv_arp.jpg

To move beyond traditional measures of research impact, this post on the LSE Impact blog proposes a range of alternative indicators. So alongside H-Index, number of citations etc there are many more provocative and interesting suggestions eg: angry letters from powerful people; town hall meetings; place of publication. They’re problematic for sure, but each reveals […]

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For a book that says almost nothing about Education – no classrooms, no students or teachers, no school architecture – James C. Scott’s Seeing Like a State is one of the best I’ve read on school design, being in schools and education. He takes a phrase, “high modernism”, and uses it as a way to […]

architects working on a design for autism-friendly classrooms

Pamela Murphy read Geography at the University of Cambridge before working as a University administrator and then training as a primary teacher. She worked in a mainstream school as a class teacher before working in two special schools and she is currently the assistant head teacher of Queen Elizabeth II special school in London. Pupils at the school […]

Brighton+Dome

A call for full papers from the Design Research Society for their 50th anniversary conference, to be held in Brighton from 27th to 30th June 2016.  The conference will be shaped by three questions: How can design research help frame and address the societal problems that face us? How can design research be a creative […]

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A call for abstracts from the 10th International Conference of the European Association for Architectural Education (EAAE) and the Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC).  The conference theme is Architectural research addressing societal changes.  Abstracts of up to 500 words, with a deadline of 15th October 2015.

A journey through maps by Suvani Dave

Suvani Dave has attended independent primary and secondary schools in Ashford, Windsor and Hounslow.  She is currently a student in the sixth form at Orleans Park secondary school in Twickenham, where she is taking ‘A’ levels in art, maths and psychology.  She is considering studying architecture at university in the USA or the UK.  Suvani […]

Interior, Strawberry Hill House.

A call for papers by the University of Stirling for a one day conference on 5th December 2015: Reading Architecture across the arts and humanities Reading Architecture Across the Arts and Humanities An AHRC-Funded Interdisciplinary Conference University of Stirling Saturday 5th December 2015 First Call for Papers The organisers of this one-day multidisciplinary conference seek […]

Ada Louise Huxtable

The Kent School of Architecture will host Writing Buildings  in collaboration with The Architectural Review with the aim of examining different traditions of writing about architecture.  Abstract submission deadline: 30 September 2015. An impressive line-up of speakers includes: Iain Sinclair / Writer Matthew Beaumont, UCL / Psychogeographer Jonathan Meades / Writer and Film Maker Alexandra […]

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As the Architectural Review’s School Awards close, let’s hope the judges give due emphasis to the design of the interiors since this is where students and teachers spend most of their time. And Architecture as I’ve argued before already pays too much attention to exteriors. But insides count! Let’s say students are inside for 5.5 […]

Something that might be of interest for our readers, copied from the ethnography-in-education [at] jiscmail.ac.uk listserv:   3rd ISA FORUM OF SOCIOLOGY 10-14 July 2016 – Vienna – Austria Research Committee on Sociology of Education, RC04 Call for papers: Session: “Space, Education and Inequalities: Lessons Learned and Ways to Move Forward” Session Organizers Analía Inés […]

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Treetops Primary is to be sited on the edge of a small town in the South of England on a large site with plenty of room for a large school playing field.  The school will be two-form entry (420 pupils) with a 56 place fte.nursery, which may be separate or linked to the school. This […]

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I’d never been inside an architect’s office until a couple of years ago but I’d always been curious to know what architects actually did while they were at work.  I suppose I imagined them sharing ideas around a table, talking, drawing, drinking coffee, making models, both real and virtual … that sort of thing. It […]

A School in a Day

As a student of architecture and education you have all the fun and none of the responsibilities of the professional architect/educator.  In June I was given the opportunity by SCABAL to write a brief for their architectural studio’s open day to design a primary school in a day. Once I’d written the brief, I watched as […]

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Post-Occupancy Evaluation as Voice for Users of Schools?

Recently I’ve been learning about Post-Occupancy Evaluation, mostly from the tons of great resources at the Usable Buildings Trust. It’s got me thinking why there’s nothing in place for systematically asking the young people and adults who spend lots of time in school buildings what they think of those school buildings. And then, dream of […]

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When I asked Catherine Burke what she would wish for if she could change just one thing in all schools, this is how she replied: (T)o remove everything from schools including all the clutter and all the paraphernalia and all the technology and all the stuff and then have a really good think about what […]

Fairfields Primary School Basingstoke

When I was considering whether to include my own childhood school as one of a series of research visits to primary schools, I wondered how that might affect the research.  It wasn’t until after I’d made the visit that I remembered Katie Jones & Jon Anderson’s excellent (2009) paper about the methodologies of different research […]

Fiona Maine’s career began as a primary teacher in Wiltshire specialising in Literacy and Language. She worked with VSO in Eritrea for two years to support the professional development of teachers and then returned to the UK as a Literacy Consultant. She also led the part-time Professional Masters programme at Bath Spa University and is […]

Image of Rightmove's advert for its new School Checker

A video popped up on Facebook: Almost 2 years into a PhD studying a school and I’m less and less sure about where school starts and where it stops. School works its way into housing markets and into worries about whether we are indeed living in the right home, in the right place, whether that […]

Suzanne (Suzi) Hall is an ethnographer at the LSE, London, where she explores people’s lives in urban spaces. Prior to that she worked as an architect in South Africa. Her 2012 book City, Street and Citizen: the Measure of the Ordinary, published by Routledge, draws on her ethnography of the Walworth Road, a bustling, dynamic […]

Judith Baines was born in 1933 and is a former primary school teacher and Deputy Head.  She pioneered progressive teaching methods at Eynsham Primary in Oxfordshire with her husband George Baines from the late 1960s until the 1980s.  Judith and George then worked at Bishop Grossteste College, Lincoln, a teacher training college, before their retirement […]

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Ruth Benn and Rebecca Skelton teach at Sparrow Farm Infants & Nursery school in Feltham, close to Heathrow Airport. Rebecca began working at the school in September 2013, after completing a PGCE in Primary Education while Ruth joined the school a year later after finishing her BA in Education. They both work in the Year […]

Edward Hopper liked his walls of light

Walls* are breaks (Vesely, 2013). They break into established categories of meaning and space and make new ones. They do that publicly too, so we could also say that walls have a communicative function to orient attention and shout about what it is they’re doing. And a school’s walls are especially powerful since they break […]

For a while, I’ve been posting interviews here without writing anything about why these interviews are such an integral part of the A&E website.  So here’s my attempt at an explanation. One of the reasons for creating this site was to have a good look at the intersection between architecture and education.  When I initially […]

The Reading Recovery training room with its double-sided mirror

Georgina (Georgie) Hughes is the Reading Recovery teacher leader for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and also trains teachers in Reading Recovery for other London boroughs.  Georgie is based at the two-form entry Osmani Primary School in Whitechapel, East London, where she is the Inclusion Manager.  Osmani’s intake of children is primarily of Bangladeshi heritage, with seventy […]

Architecture Definition by

I teach an English class once a week to a group of adults just beginning to learn the language and we often do Google Image searches for things and concepts we’re trying to explain to each other. When the words aren’t there, the visuals really help. That made me think of Craig Raine’s poem, A […]

Rima Tarar was born in Paris in the early 1990s, where she attended nursery and primary school.  One year into her secondary education, with very little English, she moved to London and was enrolled in a state secondary school in Hackney.  Rima is currently studying interior architecture at London Metropolitan University and considering a number […]

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Dominic Cullinan is an architect and founding partner of SCABAL (Studio Cullinan & Buck Architects Ltd.) based in Hatton Garden.  Dominic met Jon Buck at Ian Richie architects in 1989 and they have worked together ever since, forming a partnership as Cullinan & Buck Architects in 1996. Tell me about your first school? My primary […]

Nicky Manby first became involved with Pakeman Primary, a North London state primary school, as a reading volunteer after a career as a French and German teacher.  The teaching and sharing of reading with children has been a significant part of her life and she believes that without good reading schools, children are held back […]

Before we begin to speak about certain types of school design, we are limited by the language available to us. Language shapes interpretations of particular spaces and cues activities and emotional responses. In an interview we posted earlier, Gert Biesta mentioned “the poverty of the language of learning” – how that “learning” elides debates that […]

A short film about reading, place and memory in an East London Primary school.

Five minute sound montage featuring descriptions of school architecture

Gert Biesta’s work recalls our attention to the purpose of education – before asking whether something “works” educationally, he’s interested in what we mean by education, what is it for, who is it for? He’s a Professor at Brunel University in London and at the ArtEZ Institute of Arts in the Netherlands and a member […]

Ji Yu, who likes to be known as Summer at the University of Cambridge where she is a doctoral student in Education, is investigating the impact of learning spaces upon student learning in higher education.  She is exploring this topic with a comparative (mixed methods) case study in China.   Summer grew up in Zixi, […]

Dr Catherine Burke is a well-known historian of childhood, education and school design whose books include School (2008) and The School I’d Like (2003), both co-authored with Ian Grosvenor.  Her latest book, A Life in Education and Architecture, is a study of architect Mary Beaumont Medd (2013).  She reflected on her own experience of the materiality […]