Jesmond Gardens Primary School is a new 315 place school (with 26 full time nursery places) designed by ADP for Hartlepool Borough Council. A bold and highly creative response, the 2,055sqm school is designed around principles of transformational learning, which encourages the use of personalised, independent learning approaches that reflect a child??s stage rather than age.
Hartlepool Borough Council Children??s Services appointed ADP as architects and lead consultant for the design of the new primary school. ADP has a strong reputation in the delivery of aspirational and innovative learning spaces that break away from the ??cells and bells?? approach. The practice has worked previously, for example, with Hartlepool Borough Council to deliver Space to Learn in 2010, an experimental teaching ??laboratory?? where new teaching techniques and learning styles can be trialled in an immersive environment, ahead of investment in local schools.
ADP??s approach to school design emphasises that the design should be centred on the needs of the pupils and teachers and this philosophy ran parallel to the school??s own strongly articulated vision for their school. ADP considered it essential that the aspirations of the school were fully understood from the start of the project. This involved a number of workshops and consultations with the school staff team, pupils, parents and governors. A detailed and aspirational brief for the project was then compiled, with the school??s ultimate goal for the new building to be ??the best possible place for children to flourish and be successful life long learners and ready for their journey into adulthood.??
Key to head-teacher Jane Loomes?? passionate commitment to the scheme was that pupils were to be taken on a journey of self-discovery and independent learning, facilitated and guided by the teachers. To accommodate this, it was important to create a fluid learning environment where teachers could adapt and respond to different approaches and the individual needs of children. Flexible learning and teaching spaces were therefore fundamental, enabling the rapid reconfiguration of large groups of children into smaller and/or more specialist teaching groups.
Within the main part of the school, children enjoy a great variety of open, agile space. ADP designed ??class bases?? fitted with acoustic curtains that can be easily drawn, dividing a group of up to ninety children into smaller configurations as required. This allows pupils of similar abilities to be taught collectively, helping to achieve more personalised learning. The learning areas are open, welcoming and airy, created by natural daylight and high quality furniture. There are no conventional corridors or cloakrooms; instead there are pull out trolleys within the teaching spaces with toilet pods, which are self-contained units consisting of toilets and washbasins, providing privacy for pupils. This is important to the vision statement, which outlined that children are to be ??well catered for?? and ??given the respect they deserve.?? The ??heart?? area, a common central hub, was designed to enable expansion of the teaching areas and main hall.
The open spaces are reflected and enabled by the ICT-rich environment. The school wanted a facility that would offer pupils more immersive learning experiences and opportunities for them to grow in their own way. This has been achieved through the integration of state-of-the-art technology throughout, and includes interactive teaching walls and the extensive use of wireless technology. Earlier this year, Jesmond Gardens was shortlisted for a Northern Grid Award for Best Overall ICT Use.