School Environments Matter, here's why...
School Exterior Does your school building exterior reflect what is happening inside? An outdoor school makeover can reflect the hard work and motivation going on inside the building. Of course the important thing is covering the curriculum, paying for the invisible repairs, all of that crucial stuff. But, when someone arrives to the school for the first time and it looks uncared for, signage is gone into decline, the gates are rusted, all these give off a message to both visitors and students for that matter, that we've stopped caring, when nothing could be further from the truth.
Reception Area A reception area that is welcoming, with clear signage, colourful displays of photographs etc, reflective of the school achievements, all send out a message to everyone walking through those doors. It says 'we are competent, we are organised and we are proud of our school . This is a good place for photos that were taken on school trips or award ceremonies for example. These fantastic images are often on every school computer or teachers phones, just waiting for them to have the time to print them, frame them and put them up.
Corridors Corridors that tell the story of your school in an organised, creative way are such an important backdrop to the everyday 'goings on' in a school. Students who complain that they never do anything fun or that they are sick of school can see a photo of that time they went water rafting or to the zoo or won that award. The ethos that you all work so hard to create should be displayed in a visual way. It reminds the people who spend time there, that they belong to something valuable, something bigger than themselves.
Colour Colour doesn't have to be over the top, just carefully considered pops of colour that punctuate spaces. On a practical level, colour coding doors for example can make finding your way around the school easier for new students. The colours of your school crest for example is your school brand. White is so important too. Dark creams on walls tend to absorb light and make spaces feel more dated. Obviously it depends on the age and style of your building also. Picking colours for your school is not the same as picking colours for your home. Schools are not meant to feel the same as our homes.
New Build Maybe you have a brand new school building that looks amazing but perhaps is lacking the identity and history of your old school building? You want to bring some of that history and years of experience with you into the new building and show it in a visual story, really putting your school's unique ethos stamp on the new space. That way it becomes a mergence of old and new.
Forgotten Spaces Think of all those, what I like to call 'forgotten spaces', for example, under the stairs, that room that just gets used for storing 'stuff', with a little imagination, these can be transformed into areas that will be used and loved by the students. Spaces for learning, for rest, for exercise, meditation, they don't have to be big. It may be that they are only suitable for one person at a time. These spaces can even be used as a reward, if a student finishes their work early or a student who on the autistic spectrum and is struggling with sensory overload.
Personal Designer As i said, think of working together as your school having its very own go-to interior designer. Transforming your school in big or small ways is a process, it can be done in big steps or small steps, as you can afford to do. You may have a budget for one area and plan for another area next year. Rome wasn't built in a day and all that.
Ingredients In practical terms, these transformations are done using things like infographics, quotes, artwork, furniture, shelving, feature walls, zoning with colour, stairwell makeovers, integrated seating, photographic displays, displays of school awards. The list is endless and the needs of each school will vary massively. It is this challenge that I thrive on.