How can education suit the learner as well as the teacher? And how can we design schools which reflect that? These were the questions we asked ourselves when designing Jesmond Gardens Primary School – a multi-award winning school in Hartlepool, County Durham.
Hartlepool is among the top 10% most deprived areas in the country, and the Council wanted Jesmond Gardens to be a key driver for change. They set us the challenge of designing a school around “transformational learning”: pupils would be grouped by stage rather than age, and spaces would be highly sustainable, flexible, and welcoming.
At Jesmond Gardens, each key stage has its own “learning base” – a large space that can accommodate up to ninety children. These can then be divided up using acoustic curtains, which the children themselves can easily draw. The result is a highly flexible layout, and teachers can give much more dedicated attention to key pupil groups with specific needs.
Pupils learn in bright, airy spaces, with views over the landscape and natural light and ventilation. The spaces are also safe and fun: unusual layouts and details spark curiosity, and passive supervision forms a crucial part of every area.
We used sustainable and recycled materials where possible, and took a passive design approach to the buildings. The landscape includes living walls and improved habitats for wildlife – just a few of the strategies which helped the school to win a RIBA Sustainability Award.
“Working with everyone at ADP has been perfect in every way. For me as Headteacher, it was wonderful to work with people who could ‘get inside our heads’ and put our vision into reality.”– JANE LOOMES, HEADTEACHER OF JESMOND GARDENS PRIMARY SCHOOL