Since it was established in 2013, by bringing together two local primary schools, Northern Saints has become one of the UK’s Top 100 Performing Schools in terms of progress from KS1 to KS2 and was the joint winner of the National Pupil Premium Award in 2016. The school’s emphasis on the development of thinking skills and team work as well as a diverse range of extra-curricular activities makes it so popular with parents that it is currently oversubscribed.
With most of its buildings dating from the 1950s, the school has a long term strategic plan to develop its facilities so that the environments at the school match up to its ambition and achievements. One of these areas is a multifunctional hub, adjacent to the dining space, which is used as a staff area, for intervention groups from all years; pupil events and award ceremonies are held there as well as parent teacher meetings and coffee mornings. The school has strong links with the local community and the hub is often hired out to local groups and for corporate events. Next to the hub is a kitchen pod where staff can make themselves tea and coffee, replacing the staff room.
This multifunctional, agile space with tiered seating, tables with writable surfaces, writable walls and upholstered chairs serves a multitude of purposes. The comfortable, vibrant furniture makes it a popular place with students and staff who can reconfigure the furniture to suit, for example, a spellings intervention group or a staff meeting. Two LearningSurface® writable screens enable users to divide the space. Being able to arrange the tables in a circle facilitates discussion, making it easier to bounce ideas around because everyone can see each other. The space is large enough to seat 30 plus the additional tiered seating, so it can comfortably accommodate large groups.
Linzi Tomlin, Office Manager at Northern Saints, said, “Creating environments like this is really about giving the kids more. If you invest in them, they will respond because they feel valued and that’s what this space delivers – they come in here and they feel important. The furniture is a key part of its success, it’s really good quality and easy to change the layout to suit what
An intervention teacher at the school also commented, “The new tables are great for my interventions and small teaching groups. I love that the children have the freedom to practice and rearrange their sentence by writing it on the table before putting it into the books. It’s also a great way to help with spellings that they would like to practice first. The furniture also brightens up the learning space and makes it inviting for children. It has transformed it into a place where they love to learn.”