5 years ago

Building for the Future - How School Building Inspires the Next Generation

School Build Inspire

As we continue to work with schools across south-east Essex we learn more about the positive impact school building projects have in the long-term. As our knowledge and expertise grows we strive to make our builds as beneficial as possible for each generation that goes on to use them.

When we reflect on the memories of our school years, an enduring image for many of us will be the claustrophobic classroom that seemed to stifle the learning environment. In schools across the country, those same classrooms remain due to obstacles such as budget restrictions. With ever-growing class sizes, those rooms have become unfit for purpose, despite the best efforts of teachers to make do. To tackle this issue, school building is having to play catch up with the times. Modern structures not only accommodate more space; they create a greater focus on enhancing the learning experience. But how are classrooms evolving to help inspire the next generation?

Innovating to Accommodate Growing Pupil Numbers

It’s estimated that over the next 10 years there will be over 400,000 additional pupils in state secondary schools. Many of those extra students are already making their way through the primary school system. With schools being pushed beyond their capacity, it’s imperative that school building keeps up with the boom.

Faced with this dilemma, schools must find ways to innovate with the budgets they have available. Although some may have the funding to commission entirely new builds, others have worked with innovative and imaginative construction companies to create areas that not only offer more space but provide engaging settings in which to learn.

Our team has displayed innovation such as this through their work on a double decker bus library at Richmond Avenue School in Shoeburyness. Not only has this project provided all-important extra square footage, but it also adds excitement and originality, fostering opportunities for the pupils to be inspired by literature and reading.

Embracing the Environment in School Building

Inspiring the next generation through school building goes beyond reinventing spaces in unusual and original ways, it also requires a change in approach to the design of the traditional classroom. The familiar grey and brown blocks that so many of us were taught in did a sufficient job once upon a time, but their short comings have become more apparent. Too cold in the winter, too hot in the summer and a lack of natural light make them a detriment to learning.

Knowing what we know now, we can take a thoroughly modern approach to the classrooms of the 21st century that allows an enhanced learning experience. Research by the University of Salford has found that an increase in daylight and fresh air can increase a child’s learning capacity by up to 8%. Armed with research like this, school buildings are now designed to be brighter and airier. More appealing architecture opens up the opportunity for greater inspiration in the classroom.

The philosophy of more light and space in educational builds is something Davis Construction is proud to be incorporating into our ongoing build at St. Thomas More High School for Boys in Westcliff-on-Sea. As part of this significant project, features such as curtain walling in the communal areas, and an abundance of large windows in the teaching spaces help to transform the school building into a bright and spacious environment. The benefit is to both the pupils and teaching staff, and we are seeing an increasing number of schools adopt this across the country.

Better School Facilities Can Inspire Careers

Both the exterior design of a school building and the facilities contained within play a vital part in sparking the imaginations of the pupils that use them. By not having adequate facilities, entire classes could miss out on the moments that ignite an interest in a subject that goes on to become a successful career. Science labs, design & technology rooms and arts facilities without sufficient resources may fail to engage the pupils with the potential to excel in those subjects.

The importance of facilities in school is reflected in the widespread campaign to encourage more young individuals to take an interest in STEM or STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) subjects. Delivering these topics through academic rather than practical means has failed to inspire students, while the school facilities that could offer the opportunity for practical learning have become outdated. While traditional methods of learning have immense importance, a hands-on experience with modern equipment that has real world relevance offers learning opportunities that theoretical work or outdated equipment simply cannot.

The need for better school facilities isn’t only limited to the STEAM faculties. Sporting facilities are also essential to helping pupils nurture their physical health and social confidence. Our ongoing build Southchurch High School in Southend, consisting of four new indoor sports courts, is constructed with this in mind. Although not all the pupils will go on to careers in sport, having modern facilities to host activities that encourage health, teamwork and self-improvement will benefit them across a wide range of potential careers and their everyday adult lives.

Putting the Pupils First

Of course, building schools that will inspire the generations of the future is not without some measure of disruption. Therefore, any school construction that takes place must minimise the impact it has on school life. Davis Construction is painstakingly diligent about safety and disruption when undertaking school building projects.

Our approach involves scheduling school builds, where possible, to fall in the holidays. However, with many projects taking at least 12 months, measures must be put in place to reduce disruption to pupils. This can include completing potentially hazardous tasks – such as demolition work – within the holidays, safeguarding all those that work and study at the school.

However, with term time and build time inevitably overlapping, Davis Construction is committed to making sure our school builds educate and inspire even before completion. For example, at the St. Thomas More build mentioned previously, our team:

  • held an assembly for the pupils about the safety measures and processes of construction
  • invited seven pupils to the site – with all the necessary safety equipment – to give them an up-close look at the build.

Through engaging the pupils with the project, it becomes a source of inspiration, rather than a noisy intrusion.

By taking a mindful approach in both the design and construction of school buildings, we can build new structures that provide space, great facilities and above all inspiration for the next generation. Rather than memories of cramped, uninspiring classrooms, they will look back and remember the school building environment as the place where they were inspired to pursue their future achievements. It’s a privilege to be involved in projects that can help achieve this and we will continue to be involved in providing innovative school builds that will inspire the generations of the future.

Looking to Build for Your School?

At Davis Construction we have a number of successful school builds under our belt throughout Essex, London and the South East. If you would like to discuss a build or learn more about how we approach school expansion projects, then please contact us at info@davisconstruction.co.uk. You can also keep up to date with our current projects and company news via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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