Richard Harvey is Managing Director of TG Escapes, designers of The Learning Escape, and in this post talks about creative spaces and the benefits of an eco-classroom…
Creativity is an often underestimated contributor to many areas of our society and most theorists agree that the creative process involves a number of components including: imagination, originality, problem solving and the ability to produce an outcome of value and worth. These components do tend to apply to adults, after all how could a child be expected to come up with something new and valuable to society. Instead creativity in children can be considered in the context of the creative process rather than the end result and the environment they are in can have a profound effect on their creative ability.
Too often, opportunities for children to learn art, photography and music are compromised by the lack of a practical space designed to accommodate their spontaneity and creativity. Bespoke creative studios for art, photography and music, can be the solution to this problem and eco-classrooms have given schools across the country the tranquillity and inspiration their closeness to nature provides, as well as its effect on students’ concentration, self-discipline and behaviour, as proven by Child Psychologist Aric Sigman.
How do pupils benefit from eco-classrooms?
- To maximise natural inspiration for creative students, buildings can include a living sedum roof and sun pipes, which capture daylight and reduce the need for artificial lighting – providing perfect working conditions for budding artists.
- Environmental Citizenship is an important part of the national curriculum so buildings that use sustainable timber from forests involved in reforestation and conservation projects can encourage students’ passion for their natural surroundings. Different combinations of natural materials add a sensory experience to the school’s working environment, encouraging pupils to think, touch, smell and see beyond the four walls of the traditional classroom.
Building projects within school grounds can, of course, have an impact on their surroundings but we would encourage schools to look at the positive longer time impact rather than being, understandably, put off expanding their creative spaces by the distraction the construction might cause to the school routine. There are ways that these sites can be managed to adhere to a ‘low impact’ build principal, eg avoiding the use of heavy duty equipment on site and working around the timetables. Understandably building a creative space is a desire for many schools, but project budgets are not always readily available for them but leaving creativity to chance should not be seen as an option. Some children just won’t develop their creativity unless they are encouraged and supported throughout their school years.
The important thing for teaching staff to remember is that grown-ups are creative because they choose to be but creativity can increase by providing opportunities for children to work alongside artists and other creative adults. Imaginative play is also invaluable for children, praising children’s creative efforts and, last but by no means least, providing a creative environment can all contribute.
Examples of eco-classrooms
To accommodate their “Outstanding” Art department and growing intake of post-16 pupils, Woolwich Polytechnic commissioned our largest Escape yet; a two-storey building where pupils could benefit from the natural inspiration of their school grounds. The additional space, with its eco-friendly structure, produced a “solid link” between school and environment, with full length windows maximising exposure to both natural lighting and views of nature from all angles.
The children of Rosslyn Park Primary School love their eco-classroom, designed as a space where nature can be incorporated into learning and playing, proving that separating creative subjects from a traditional classroom environment allows greater engagement with natural patterns, materials and scenery. It also provides a space for students to observe and appreciate their outdoor space whether in glorious sunshine, or sudden downpours!
You can learn more about eco classrooms, read case studies and watch videos from schools at the TG Escapes education website.
If you would like more information, funding ideas or a free, no-obligation survey please call TG Escapes on 0800 917 7726 or email info@
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