Gorton Education Village breaks down learning and discrimination barriers
The client brief was to create Gorton Education Village, a new building to house two schools, Cedar Mount 11-16 mainstream for 900 pupils and Melland High School, National Specialist SEN College 11-19, with a complex and diverse range of learning needs for 110 pupils.
The design process was led by the delivery of the five outcomes of Every Child Matters, the transformation of educational achievement and the well-being of the surrounding communities.
The building form was generated from the inside out. As the design progressed, one of the major areas identified for review became the relationship between the internal and external spaces. The design responds to this on a number of levels. Courtyards have a direct connection with their contiguous internal spaces, all having differing uses and characters. A World Garden to represent the large number of different nationalities was incorporated in the school development masterplan.
The building achieved a BREEAM rating of Very Good and exceeded statutory performance levels in areas of energy conservation, temperature control and ventilation. The design team also incorporated gains in terms of the daylight in spaces and environmental comfort.
Enhancement of the learning environment has been dramatic. The innovative alignment of spaces within specific zones has enabled collaborative and diverse working arrangements between colleagues and opportunities for improved delivery to students.
Since opening, there has been a dramatic reduction in behavioural issues and absenteeism amongst staff and pupils, much of this has been attributed to the psychological bonus of not being isolated in a room alone which has helped pupils feel ‘safe’.
The street, the main artery of the school, allows the two schools to be observed at a glance without the need to keep doors open. Generally there is greater visibility into many more spaces offering the opportunity for discreet supervision, thus reducing the possibility for bullying. The street has become the meeting place for pupils from both schools to socialise and mix. The spaces create opportunity to manage timetabling reducing congestion; enhancing a calm approach to the day and changing the ‘processed’ approach to education.
The environment has broken down barriers to learning and discrimination against disability resulting in radical forward thinking relating to access of facilities beyond the first tier of shared space this is far beyond what was originally envisaged in the original brief.