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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

'Open Plan' - the wrong teminology

As the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy becomes closer to beginning work and ultimately moving into our multi-million pound Maritime House Campus, I am using this time to reflect. To reflect on our experiences, our shared beliefs and our vision for the future. Tonight, I have been thinking about the dreaded 'open plan' terminology that is so often used to misrepresent.

More and more schools and colleges are focusing on the immense benefits offered by teaching in larger, flexible spaces. At IPACA, we like to refer to these spaces as 'superclasses' rather than 'open plan classrooms' which still hold too many horror stories from the 1970's where teachers competed against each other for space and volume.

With superclasses, the importance is not on competing but on a more flexible and agile learning environment. Such environments support the capacity of teachers and students to work in more open and collaborative way, reflecting on a more responsive approach to future learning needs.

For superclass spaces to work effectively the vision, ethos and operational needs of open spaces need to be well defined in terms of learning and teaching behaviours. Our Academy Patron, Professor Stephen Heppell, offers a great rationale on what makes these 'superclass spaces' work - check out this link for more information.

At design stage, an integrated approach is required to create effective and well-designed spaces to achieve these learning goals and good operational outcomes. This is a big focus for us at the moment with the develop of our Maritime House Campus. Acoustics are central to the debate and are an essential ingredient in the integrated design of our spaces.

For more information about acoustics in superclass or 'open spaces', check out this link.