A £25,000 donation in memory of Mrs Elaine Adair, wife of former Chair of the Board of Governors Mr Brian Adair (2006-2018), has transformed a previously underused Junior 6 ‘open area’ in the Junior School into a Collaborative Working Zone, designed by pupils, for pupils.
Instead of turning to industry experts, the school challenged Junior 6 to come up with the design in an Apprentice-style challenge set as part of their enterprise topic. Pupils were divided into teams, given a budget and a 10 week timescale to brainstorm, plan and design the new space, before pitching their ideas to a panel of senior figures in the School, including: Mr John O’Neill (Rector), Miss Heather Fuller (Head Teacher of the Junior School), Mr Iain Leighton (Senior School Deputy Head) and Dr Graeme Fairweather (Senior School Librarian).
Miss Heather Fuller, Head Teacher of the Junior School, said:
The children’s learning went beyond the classroom, giving them real-life experience of being part of an enterprise project which had value and meaning. They had opportunities to make connections in their learning, to transfer skills and to learn from one another.”
Central to the design project was to devise a new purpose for the open area which would enhance learning and this purpose had to be reflected in the design and pitch. It was also important for the school’s values: people centred, ambitious, innovative and community, to be at the heart of the redesign.
Inspiration was taken from the Flexible Learning Area in The John Shaw Science Wing at the Senior School, an area equipped with the technology and space to foster skills including innovation, collaboration, design and creative reflection.
This project saw children leading on their learning and taking ownership of their entrepreneurial ideas. They harnessed many of their existing skills including literacy, numeracy, design, communication and teamwork. They developed skills in planning, persuasive writing and speaking, resourcing, estimation and budgeting, as well as vital, real-life skills including communication, collaboration, decision making, problem solving and creative thinking.
Children created mood boards, 2D scale drawings and 3D models of their plans to ensure their proposal was feasible. They set out their business case in pitches to deliver to the panel. Meanwhile, working to a budget meant the young entrepreneurs had to be discerning when it came to sourcing proposed items and costing these up.
The panel were impressed by the calibre of the presentations and the clear volume of work each group had put into their finished designs and pitches. The winning design came from Team H.I.D.E: Hailey, Ivara, David and Ethan. They proposed to convert the J6 open area into a space which put learning and teaching at its heart, using a palette of pastel blues and greens, complimented by plants, to create a calming and tranquil atmosphere to improve focus. They identified the importance of having an area to discuss ideas and collaborate in, opting for a mix of traditional desks and chairs, standing desks and bean bags. They also accounted for pupils who may be looking for a quiet space to work in, leaving room for individual study. Motivational messages adorned the walls to promote a can-do attitude.
Miss Fuller continued:
There’s a clear sense that Junior 6 have been empowered by this project to use their voices to create change and design workable solutions. This is a true embodiment of memorable learning in action, and it has sparked so much joy. The enthusiasm, motivation and excitement from pupils in relation to redesigning this space gave us pause for thought: the Adair family had very generously donated £25,000 to the Junior School in memory of Mrs Elaine Adair, a true champion of our Junior School, and we couldn’t think of a better way to leave a lasting legacy for Elaine than to use the donation to carry out a larger scale refurbishment, using the winning pupil design as the inspiration for the transformation. And so was born, the Collaborative Working Zone, in memory of Mrs Elaine Adair.”
The Junior School hosted a special event to mark the official opening of the Collaborative Working Zone in November, and the School was honoured to welcome Mr Brian Adair, as well as members of his family, to unveil the new space.
In addition to holding the post as Chair of the Board of Governors from 2006-2018, Brian was a member of the School’s Board of Governors for 26 years and has played an integral role in the strategic direction and success of the High School during this lengthy period. Brian is also a former pupil of the School from the class of 1964.
Commenting on the Collaborative Working Zone, Mr Brian Adair said:
As a family, it gives us great pride to see and be part of this innovative use of the donation made in favour of the Junior School, in memory of our beloved and loving wife, mother and grandmother. Congratulations to the Junior 6 Team H.I.D.E for persuading the high-powered judging panel and being successful in their efforts. Sursum Semper.”
What was once an underutilised space, is now a modern and inspiring place of collaboration and learning, featuring cutting edge technology and purposeful design, designed by pupils, for pupils.
Every single Junior School child will benefit from this new area when they reach their final year. The beauty of this space is its versatility: it can be used by individuals who are seeking a quieter environment in which to work, or for break out groups to collaborate in. It opens up a world of opportunity for after school clubs and it is the perfect space for Science club and STEM club.
Concluding, Miss Fuller said:
We are incredibly grateful to the Adair family for their most generous donation, and we are thrilled that we have been able to create a first-of-its-kind area in the Junior School. This is a truly fitting legacy for Elaine Adair, an inspiring individual we hold close in our hearts at the High School, and in the Junior School in particular. Welcoming Brian Adair and members of his family to the Junior School to officially open the Collaborative Working Zone, in memory of Mrs Elaine Adair, is a day we will remember for a very long time.”