Commitment to innovative education
By Nick Lyons, Business Development Director, Scotland, Steelcase Solutions. www.steelcase-solutions.co.uk
Steelcase Solutions, the UK’s leading office interiors company, has underlined its commitment to innovative education by supporting a new college which offers alternative education programmes for teenagers.
Newlands Junior College in Glasgow has been established to deliver new form of education involving alternative educational programmes aimed at young people aged 14 to 16 years old who have potential but may find their current secondary school education does not suit their learning styles or goals.
The college, which was created by entrepreneur Jim McColl, is recruiting 30 pupils from local schools and put them through an alternative approach to their education in years S3 and S4 which, in addition to academic subjects, will combine vocational training and motivational training with sports, nutrition and outdoor activities.
Steelcase Solutions has been working with the college, based on the south side of Glasgow, since its inception and has provided advice on creating inspiring learning environments as well as products which support active learning.
Nick Lyons, Business Development Director for Steelcase Solutions in Scotland, said: “We are pleased and privileged to be part of this extremely worthwhile project.
“One of the biggest frustrations for teachers and educators today is the unsuitability of the learning environment. We see new schools emerging but time and again the actual learning spaces are still adhering to designs that belong to previous centuries.
“Despite revolutionary technology, the information explosion, and an interconnected planet, not to mention improved teaching and learning methods, the typical college classroom is often fixed in time like a museum.
“Of course, there’s often a computer in the corner that can pull up a YouTube video, maybe even an electronic whiteboard. But the scene rarely changes: rows of hard chairs with little tablet arms, a writing board attached to the wall, an instructor’s lectern – in short, everything geared to the lecture format developed back when the only iPad was a chalk slate. Can 19th century classroom design be the best way to prepare students for the 21st century knowledge economy? I doubt it.
“Students today are far more connected but schools generally haven’t accommodated what students can do, or adjusted what educators try to do with them. You see students using laptops or other devices, but the instruction often isn’t designed to take up on the fact that they’re coming to class with those tools.
“The ethos of Newlands Junior College is to stimulate and engage teenagers, who may not find mainstream education suits their needs, and to help them realise their potential. This involved creating active learning environments which make a significant difference in the engagement of students.
“This new approach is taking root in schools and colleges across the country and Newlands is pioneering in its approach. We are pleased to play a part in realising its own ambitions.
“Studies shows that classrooms designed for active learning—i.e., where physical space supports a focus on engaging experiences for students and faculty— have a significant effect on student engagement.
“A Steelcase Education research programme was undertaken to build upon and contribute to this growing body of evidence that the learning environment impacts students’ success and engagement is a key predicting factor.
“A robust survey instrument, titled the Active Learning Post Occupancy Evaluation (AL-POE) tool, was developed specifically for measuring the impact of classroom design on student engagement. Engagement is widely recognised as a highly probable predictor of student success.
“The majority of students and faculty reported that the new classrooms contributed to higher engagement, the expectation of better grades, more motivation and more creativity
“Decision makers at educational institutions, architects and designers can be assured that investments in solutions intentionally designed to support active learning can create more effective classrooms and higher student engagement. Furthermore, there’s now evidence that these classrooms encourage and enable educators to practice active learning methods.
Iain White, Principal of Newlands Junior College said: “It has been fantastic to be in partnership with Steelcase Solutions. Their furniture meets our needs in terms of quality and flexibility and ease of use. Being involved with a company that understands our requirements and is passionate about providing an optimum learning environment is a joy.”