The Drum Recommends: Commended - The Canopy Studio: Creating inspiring new learning areas and redefining the outlook and ethos of a unique 'school within a garden'
The Drum Recommends: Commended is highlighting The Canopy Studio who helped to create a unique, first-of-its-kind educational and environmental project for Berrywood School.
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Growing a brighter future
Working with Berrywood Primary School in Hedge End, Hampshire we helped to create a unique, first-of-its-kind educational and environmental project designed to enhance the children’s learning environment, inspire critical and creative thinking, and encourage new ways of learning beyond the remit of the standard educational model.
What began with offering to help the Berrywood pupils with the creation of an environmental film, proved to be the green shoots of a much wider movement.
With two of our founder members former pupils of the school, we saw this as an opportunity to give something back, to use our design expertise to help our former school grow and thrive, whilst continuing to foster a lifelong love of learning and forging the kind of happy memories that allow us to look back so fondly on our time at Berrywood.
We offered our services as creative consultants with a brief intended to help change the entire outlook of the school. By redesigning the interior layout to create spaces that supported the school ethos, our aim was to help build a beautiful environment in which children could learn, develop and grow.
By encouraging active pupil, parent and educator participation and engagement, our project intended to cultivate a holistic environment in which children would feel inspired and empowered to enact changes in their school surroundings, whilst creating a meaningful, lasting impact in the wider community.
Outline of project brief
We were given the opportunity to create a vibrant, sustainable and inspiring school environment that reflected the school’s unique ethos and wonderful outside spaces.
In addition to aiding their everyday curriculum, the interior spaces were designed to encourage the children of Berrywood to develop their critical thinking skills regarding the world we live in, and to take small steps to affect big changes in the way in which we safeguard our planet for future generations.
Engagement with pupils
Aside from those children directly involved in the Green Heroes project, the entire school, both teachers and pupils, have benefitted from the improvements to Berrywood’s internal and external learning environments we helped to design and implement. In creating an inspiring environment in which to learn, develop and grow, the reception, atrium, learning zones, and welcoming interior spaces of Berrywood School were all transformed in keeping with the school’s wider ethos. We were able to create a seamless transition between the outside concept of a “school within a garden” and interior learning spaces designed to encourage free thinking and inspire creativity.
Engaging with the wider community
Everyone associated with Berrywood, from pupils and parents to staff, governors and the wider community, has an innate sense that they are part of something meaningful. Parents can see their children’s increased engagement with their learning.
Under the leadership and long-term vision of Headteacher Chris Reilly, Berrywood has transformed from a school requiring improvement in a February 2014 Ofsted Report to one rated good at its last inspection in May 2016. The school is now a heavily oversubscribed jewel of the local community, and it is a pleasure to have contributed towards the school’s current and future success.
Increased media awareness and participation
Since our involvement in the school redesign, Berrywood has garnered both local and national press coverage, and in 2018 has featured in both The Parliamentary Review, and on the Royal Horticultural Society website as examples of best educational practice. It is hoped that the Green Heroes brand will be adopted by more schools locally, with the long-term aim of creating a nationwide association of participating schools. Therefore, we have created a distinctive, powerful and effective brand with the potential for national roll out, and has the capacity to prove effective on both a large and small scale.
Sustainability Improvements and social impact
As well as raising awareness of climate change, Berrywood’s Green Heroes project encourages children to care for and improve their school grounds, creating a greener, more pleasant and more eco-friendly environment in which to learn and grow, and resulting in a lower carbon footprint and lower waste, with kitchen peelings added to the composter to create compost for the flowerbeds and homegrown fruit and vegetables.
Case studies point to the way in which adding greenery and vegetation to school grounds can aid cooling of the local eco-system. Indeed, plans are already in place in Paris to overhaul each of the 800 schools in the centre of the city. If Britain looks to implement a similar system, Green Heroes is a proven, fully-formed, scalable and sustainable benchmark project that could easily be rolled out across other schools.
Funding and Investment
Although radical overhauls of school teaching spaces are not widely possible in these times of straitened local authority budgets, initiatives such as Green Heroes offer a timely, relatively low-cost, hands-on learning experience that encourages children to think critically about the world we live in, and how they can contribute in their own small way to safeguarding our planet for future generations.
Initial outlay can be as little as encouraging children to help weed and create flower beds, installing small planters and other touches of greenery in their school playground. Utilising previously underused patches of school land to create a vegetable patch, or caring for some free range chickens.
As well as inspiring critical and creative learning, the true beauty of Green Heroes is in an era where many public-sector organisations are facing a sustained period of funding constraint, the Green Heroes projects can consist of as little or large an outlay as individual school budgets allow.
To find out more on The Canopy Studio agency visit their The Drum Recommends profile.