Brooke School is a learning community that provides quality learning experiences for children with a wide range of individual needs from 2 to 19 year olds.
changing cultures have been involved with the school on a variety of projects over several years. Most recently we have been involved in the transformation of the school environment – firstly working with Post-16 to develop a more age appropriate learning environment and secondly to transform the library from an underused and unloved room to a more dynamic book exploration space, appropriate for the wide ranges of age and ability.
A significant challenge in Post-16 was the way trying to meet a variety of needs and conditions, from physical to mental, had impacted on the room, and left the space feeling very confused and almost indistinguishable from a primary area.
One of our skills is knowing how to deliver multiple elements of the curriculum through creative projects.
In Post-16 we worked with staff and students, and began by drawing up a scale plan of the main area, including improvements we would all like to make. This thread of maths and design continued throughout the project, including our class trip to IKEA – which we used as a real opportunity to give the young people a chance to contextualise learning by choosing and buying everything themselves – and through the making of soft furnishings and accessories.
A strong underlying element of the project was to strengthen bonds with local businesses, with mainstream educational partners and the wider community. Although we had some budget for materials, where possible we made contact with local businesses to not only ask for donations, but more so to start new links to be beneficial to the students and the school as a whole.
In the library space we began by holding consultation sessions with the staff and children as to what the space should and could be. We challenged historical classifications, stock, furniture and library usage. We drew up a design and our team transformed the space over the summer holidays. We condensed the books available and either donated the rest to charity, or re-purposed into book stools. We also built Narnia in the old stock cupboard!
The Post 16 space was transformed into an adult environment with an area to be calm, read, create and share stories and socialise. The long-term effect of this has been on the staff and students attitude towards, and ways of being in the space, resulting in a calmer outlook and greater productivity. The new kitchen has allowed the group to develop their ‘Kingfisher Café’ providing tasty snacks for each other and the wider school community. The project had a number of contributions from the local business and education community, including the donation of kitchen doors, worktops, fabric and the potential for working collaboratively with Coventry University on product development for young people with additional needs.
The library has become a clean bright space where children can learn and explore the books freely. Through colour, furnishings and literacy stimuli, the space now caters for a variety of ages and emotional needs. Using letters, and magnetic chalkboard paint around the space childrenare also able to explore language and mark making in a variety of different ways, as well as creating stories from the tactile story chest.