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SCALE-FREE SCHOOLS A New learning Architecture for the 21st century

00: / 00: / research, strategise & implement

www.project00.net

2011

research, strategise & implement

www.project00.net


CONCENTRATED LEARNING ARCHITECTURE

LEARNING FACTORIES Conventionally the architecture of learning exchanges is a concentrated, semi-industrial one, whereby the various activites assocated with learning are subdivided into designated functions: classroom, dining room, assembly hall, chemstry lab, common room, library, staff room etc, and compressed onto a single site.


NEW BUILDING

A SCHOOL = A BUILDING? This programmatic architecture is then effectively wrapped in a brand new institutional building, conceived as a sudden, one-off capital investment. This requires a large amount of upfront capital expenditure, both in terms of finance and in terms of embedded carbon.


EVENING NIGHT TIME HOLIDAY

REDUNDANCY One of the historical problems with this model, is that after completion this asset is heavily under-used. Factoring in school holidays, evenings and nightimes, a typical school buillding may actually be empty for 85% of the year.


YOUTH & SPORTS CLUBS

COMMUNITY GROUPS

ADULT LEARNING

OUT OF HOURS & HOLIDAYS

EXTENDED USES In recent years, schools and local authorities have attempted to slightly mitigate this underuse of physical assets by organising extended uses for the school building, including evening classes for adults, youth and sports clubs and community groups. Often a lot of effort has to be put into overcoming people’s resistance to the ‘institutional’ feel of the building, and in the case of adult learning, helping people get over the feeling that they are being sent ‘back to school’.


VOLUNTEER HOMES

PUBLIC COURTS

SPORTS CENTRE

LOCAL CAFE PARK

EMPTY BUILDINGS

STARTUP STUDIOS

LOCAL CINEMA

PUBLIC LIBRARY

PUBLIC WCS

OFFICES

BARS

THEATRE

LOCAL MUSIC SHOP & RECORDING STUDIOS

CHURCH HALLS & COMMUNITY CENTRES

OFFICE

URBAN REDUNDANCY At the same time, most buildings in city and town centres are unused or under-used for many hours a day. Particularly those places used primarily at evenings or weekends uses (such as religious buildings, tourism venues, leisure-related spaces and public parks).


VOLUNTEER HOMES

PUBLIC COURTS

SPORTS CENTRE

LOCAL CAFE PARK

EMPTY BUILDINGS

LOCAL CINEMA

STARTUP STUDIOS

STUDENTS CAFE / UNION PUBLIC LIBRARY

PUBLIC WCS

OFFICES

BARS

TECH SHOP

THEATRE

LOCAL MUSIC SHOP & RECORDING STUDIOS

CHURCH HALLS & COMMUNITY CENTRES

OFFICE

A TOWN = A SCHOOL? What if, instead, this redundant capacity could be used in a smart way? Could the various learning exchanges which make up a school be matched with available spaces around a town centre? By forming relationships with individuals and organisation in the neighbourhood, buildings which tend to be underused during working hours (such as cinemas, public libraries, bars, cafes, historic buildings...) could easily be seen as ‘readymade’ learning environments. We would no longer think of a school as ‘a building’, but as a civic institution enmeshed into a community, a part of the life of a town centre; designed around a soft, responsive, customisable architecture. Less ‘planned’, more ‘choreographed’.


MOBILE ICT

STUDENT CARDS

UNIFORMS

Timetabling GPS Locating Working Teaching Material Remote access to teaching

Identification Access to services and facilities Managed Payment

Visible Identity All-year weather protection Reflective

LOCAL BUSES

SCHOOL MINIBUS

SCHOOL BIKES

Transport to school Transport within school

Special transport needs Special transport destinations

Visible Identity Anywhere, anytime transport

PUBLIC REALM

LoCAL WI-FI

Parks Toilets Safety & Security Cycle Lanes

Anywhere web-access

CORE INFRASTRUCTURE In order to allow this to happen, the network needs to be supported by a range or specific infrastructures. The roles formerly played by physical devices, such as corridors, fences, notice boards and the school bell, can now be performed by non-physical systems. Most obviously, these involve information technology (textbooks in digital format, GPS location tracking etc), but also include wider conditions in the public realm which have formerly been seen as part of general council spending, such as cycle routes, public transport, bike sheds etc.


CAPITAL OPERATIONAL

FOCUS ON PHYSICAL CAPITAL PERMANENT ACCESS TO STANDARDISED SPACES & FACILITIES DISCONNECTED FROM LOCAL GROUPS AND BUSINESSES

NEW-BUILD MODEL In the traditional new-build-school approach, the focus is on how the quality of the physical capital (built environment and school-owned resources) in improving education outcomes. This presents a ‘high-threshold’ prospect for potential new schools, where a heavy capital investment is required up-front, and spaces and facilities provided within the school envelope are standardised on a ‘one-size-fits-all’ basis in order to accommodate the budget constraints. Not only leaner procurement - lower threshold - but also higher value. Richness - capital heavy.

REGULAR AC

STRONG RELA


NAL

CAPITAL

OPERATIONAL

FOCUS ON SOCIAL CAPITAL

& FACILITIES

REGULAR ACCESS TO EXTRAORDINARY SPACES & FACILITIES

INESSES

STRONG RELATIONSHIPS WITH LOCAL GROUPS AND BUSINESSES

SCALE-FREE MODEL With a scale-free school strategy, the focus is on building social capital (relationships with businesses and organisations who own resources and spaces). This allows leaner, more responsive provision of resources, with a much lower startup threshold. It also has the potential to offer increased value to students, through the relationships with local professionals and groups, access to a diverse range of high-quality spaces (often with a direct specificity to the subject) and access to top-class facilities (such as recording studios) that a school would not be able to own. These close relationships with local organisations and businesses may offer an extra level of diversity and richness, It gives students access to high-quality spaces and resources a school could not afford to own - and more intutitive learning environments than classrooms.


FROM FIXED-CAPACITY The fixed capacity of the traditional new-build school has shaped many of the dilemmas that face education policy . Successful schools experience over-competition for places, and are forced to be selective, either on the basis of academic performance, faith or address (the socalled ‘postcode lottery’).

SUCCEEDING SCHOOL OVERCOMPETITION


At the same time, failing schools become deprivation traps for those left behind, worsening the social inequality which education aims to alleviate.

FAILING SCHOOL DEPRIVATION TRAP


SUCCEEDING SCHOOL INTENSIFIES / EXPANDS


TO SCALE-FREE With the capacity to incrementally flex, and adopt resources on an ad hoc basis, the scale-free school negates this dilemma. Successful schools do not become selective, but simply grow, while failing schools shrink.

FAILING SCHOOL SHRINKS


A DAY IN THE LIFE


09.30AM REGISTRATION “Actually school doesn’t start when we arrive - it starts when we leave home. Basically registration happens at nine-thirty, wherever you are. Once I’m logged onto the school network, my iPhone marks my location, keeps me up to date with any school announcements or changes to my timetable, and if I’m going somewhere I’ve never been before, it gives me directions on how to get there.”


10.00AM HISTORY “It seems quite appropriate that we have history classes in a historic building - this place is an amazing National Trust property - but it tends to be pretty quiet during the week. Our teacher brings a projector and an ebeam - which means pretty much any wall can become an interactive whiteboard. We’re not allowed to use phones during class, but they beep at the end of the lesson - like a school bell.”


11.15 AM BETWEEN CLASSES “Obviously we move around town quite a lot more than we used to. Its compulsory to wear uniforms whenever we’re out and about - and actually they double as reflective jackets when we’re cycling around. There are school bikes we can use, or our student cards work on all the local buses.”


11.30AM FRENCH “Quite a few of the languages lessons are in the smaller screens at the local cinema. They have these lecture theatre tables that fit into the drinks holders for us to work on. It can be a bit weird because it always smells a bit of popcorn - but our teacher sometimes treats us by showing us old black and white french films.�


12.30PM MUSIC “We have music lessons in a music shop in town - which is pretty cool because we can try different things. The managers of the shop are a part-time teaching assistants, and they’re usually around anytime to give tips - sometimes in afternoons there are tutorial sessions there, and they’ve got a rehearsal space for bands. Nearby there are professional recording studios we can apply to use for a few hours - and a couple of bands from our school have actually released albums.”


1.30PM LUNCH “There’s no school dining room as such - we all eat all over the place. The local restaurants and cafes put on a basic lunch for us. It’s not as posh as normal restaurant food, and there are usually only a couple of choices, but generally we get quite a bit of variety. We swipe for lunch using our student cards - so there’s no money involved - but there are allocations, so we can’t always eat in the same place, we have to move around.”


2.00PM PUBLIC LIBRARY “As well as lessons, we also have library sessions timetabled in, quite often after lunch. The librarians are really strict about talking and making noise, but it’s quite a good space to read a book, catch up on coursework, or just mess about on my laptop a bit.”


3.00PM TECH SHOP “The Tech Shop is essentially a kind of workshop-come-laboratory space for making and testing all kinds of ideas. It’s run by the school, but it’s not just for the school, local students and businesses come in there making prototypes, models, all sorts. We have design, technology, physics and chemistry lessons there usually.”


4.00PM PARK “In the afternoon there are quite a lot of school sports, and school teams. We usually use the same pitches as everyone else - at the local park or sports centre - we just use them earlier in the day before adults get out of work. There’s quite a lot of crossover with county teams, and sometimes we get professionals come in as guest coaches.”


8.00PM HOME “The homework tends to be much tougher than my previous school - but there’s a lot of support. In the evenings you can log onto online group tutorials on the school intranet, or request extra sessions in the timetable if you’re struggling with something, or want to talk to someone on the pastoral team if you’re getting stressed out, or bullied or anything.”


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Scale-Free Schools