2 Transformational learning This Monograph is to celebrate the coming of the new Darton Adult Learning College. Adult, not because it is no longer for teaching secondary school children, but adult because it is designed to facilitate a new ethos of providing the opportunity for young students to learn in a responsible adult manner. The replacement of the old school was long awaited but once the time had come, architects Lathams, challenged perceptions and enabled a new paradigm of transformational learning - a never ending journey of discovery now embarked upon. Whereas before the old buildings dictated how the school could be run, now our building enables us to experiment, change and evolve. This booklet illustrates, through the unedited words of staff and pupils, how the first generation of users have responded to their new environment. Thank you for taking the time to share a little of that journey with us.
4 The creation First concept sketches for the new college
5 By Derek Latham Chairman, Lathams HonDPr Dip Arch RIBA Dip TP MRTPI Dip LD MLI AABC IHBC AoU AHI FRSA I first arrived at Darton on a wet day through a muddle of cars parked in the manner of a car boot sale on a mixture of tarmac and muddy grass. Through this could be perceived a series of linked lightweight buildings, typical of post war coalfield school construction, stepping down the hillside. Access would have challenged any paralympian, and the condition was such, that the little TLC the school could spare for their building was overwhelmed by the rate of its deterioration. Staff and pupils strove to achieve despite the building rather than because of it. Investment had only emphasised the paucity of the old But there had been investment, a new pavilion and an all weather pitch sat on high open ground behind the school, a new beacon of hope which dispiritingly only seemed to emphasise the paucity of the old. Purpose and pride As the existing school had to remain in use until a new one was built, utilising the site of the existing buildings was out of the question. I walked the whole site and was repeatedly drawn to a point at the far corner of the new pitch to the existing school, where the views north and east were so stunning, I thought if I were an aristocratic landowner, this is where I would build my country house. To locate a building here demonstrates the purpose and pride that would celebrate the achievements of a successful dynasty. That I thought is what the young people of Darton need and deserve! A space for all The school s vision was to create a space for all, where everyone could participate, on both a social and business plane like a Roman Agora. Hence, I included the hall, dining, library and circulation areas into one central atrium, and placed this at the heart of the school (a heart that would have been the great hall of any Yorkshire country house) with three storey wings providing the production spaces. These wings have, potentially, fully-open-plan space, but can be easily partitioned without affecting the complex and expensive services that support the activities within those spaces. Linked with their own staircase they can be utilised for different academic disciplines, year group, or a school within a school. The only limits are the organisational capacity of the staff, not the building! Hilltop citadel Finally, I wanted the building to sit in the landscape, as well as on it. Embracing the all-weather pitch, using the landscape to provide amphitheatres and multi-level access, and to sit away from, and above, the car parks and drop-off points, so all had an equal opportunity to walk up to, and appreciate, their new hilltop citadel.
7 College opinions The transition from the old school to the new school...
8 I would sum up the school as outstanding and brilliant. By Brogan Jay Law Student at Darton College The transition between the old school to the new school was an exciting experience, because accept from virtual tours of the school and pictures of what the school may look like when it was done, we were still unsure of what our new learning environment was going to be like. At first I was unsure about the change of school as I felt we had a lot of freedom in the old school and everyone had their own space within friendships. But when we got to the new school we found that we were able to find new places for us to go and also the behaviour within the school is monitored better because we have less freedom than the last school. In the new school we have more opportunities to do different activities such as the sports days and world days we hold, this is because they can be easily controlled and everyone can be monitored. Also we have more spaces to use like for example the atrium and lecture theatre when we hold shows and the shows are a lot better at the new school as the lighting and the sound is more professional and the seating is more comfortable for everyone and you are more able to see the whole performance because of the tiered seating. Another good thing about the school is that it does not restrict people with disabilities as the new seating in the lecture theatre is more comfortable to be sat in for a long period of time and the disabled parking is a lot better within the new school. Also the new parking and bus area is far better than it was at the old school as before we had a lot of accidents with buses and staff cars and the area wasn t really safe, but now it is more safe with zebra crossings and separate car parking for staff and pupils parents, this is because of the way it is set out. At first I wasn t sure about the open plan learning environment but after a while pupils got used to the environment they were in and were able to get on and respected those around them. Also most of the classrooms set us up for the future as they are going to be similar to the environments we will be in when we re working, like for example most offices are open plan, so now we ve been able to experience it and get used to it within school it won t be as much as a different and new. Over all I m proud to be a pupil at this school and believe that the behavior and uniform has improved dramatically at this new school. I would sum up the school as outstanding and brilliant school.
9 By Richard Rhodes Student at Darton College...great places for assemblies and dance or music shows! On first impressions of the new school building it seemed like a whole new futuristic school compared to the rundown falling apart old place that was the old building. Well starting in Darton high school year seven I was not looking forward to five years in there but after a few months you learnt to, look past the dark dingy corridors and cold miserable classrooms and, get along with day to day learning aside from the faulty boiler and broken facilitys, and unhygienic environments and the many smokers hiding behind every corner and the outdoor trips between classes, it was also a place where each little group of friends could have a place of their own that they would go to every lunch and dinner also the buildings all had that strangely comfy lived in feeling. However February 2011 brought about change to it all as the new building opened its doors to Darton High School which became Darton College upon stepping into this new environment I felt proud to be part of this place everywhere you look there is bright coloured walls which put me in a lighter mood everywhere you turned the building is designed to help with our learning from the netbook trolleys in every department to entwine ICT into other subjects such as maths and english also the facilitys around the school are a lot better at helping with the subject example the woodwork area is very advanced and equipped for any work to be done and the science department is an outstanding place that is fully equipped to do any experiment or science project necessary. The new building is a highly safer place than the old school it supplies security cameras in every corridor and department also any open spaces are regularly surveyed and well-kept also the toilet facilities are a lot better in the new building as they are single cubicles so there is no interruptions and they are a lot nicer to use than anywhere in Darton High another point is the assemblies and performances for this we have the highly spacious atrium, highly convenient lecture theatre and very good amphitheatre all can provide great places for assemblies and dance or music shows! Over all it is a place I am very proud to be in and I am privileged to be in this great learning space which will benefit many generations of students to come.
10 ...we can choose to work as our own class or as a few together now the classroom walls are adjustable.
11 By Gracie Marshall Student at Darton College Darton College is sincerely better than the old building Darton High School. However there are a few disadvantages to this school compared to the old building. The transition over to Darton College was exciting as students were hoping to have a new safer and more welcoming place to be educated, and that is what we received. Darton College is a safer, brighter and happier place to be. When we moved to this school for the first week everyone was overwhelmed with how much systems changed and how much the attitude to school changed in a positive way, no students had a negative thought about the school as we settled down. We are all very grateful for being given a school as lovely as this one after been such an unsafe, gloomy place like the old building. Technology and overall equipment the school provide us with is much better, and the new styles of classrooms are working well as we can choose to work as our own class or as a few together now the classroom walls are adjustable. I think it works very well. Everyone throughout the school from staff to pupils seem much more satisfied with how everything is working and the new equipment given and much more joyful to be within the college. However there is one disadvantage of this school I can recall which is seating at dinners and areas to go when the weather isn t at its best. The school seems to be built for summer, and there is only the atrium available for when the weather is at its worse. Overall the school is much more delighting to staff and pupils. By Olivia Ward Student at Darton College The transition into the new school brought a lot of mixed feelings and thoughts to most students, for me especially. The journey was a very exciting experience as we were all anxious of what to expect. I remember visiting the college when the building was almost finished, and the shock on my face was unbelievable. I was amazed. After the tour of the building, I couldn t wait to come back into this brilliant new college. I also remember the first day in the college, and also remember going home and bragging about how amazing my school is to all my family! I was astonished as every time I walked around a corner there was something else that surprised us all! This building and college is something to be very proud of and I am very grateful for the learning opportunities we have in this college. Overall I think this college has satisfied all students and teachers, and I think it is a friendlier and happier environment to be in. The sentence I would use to conclude all my thoughts and feelings would be; my school is outstanding.
12 By Jessica Lawton Student at Darton College I believe that the transition from the old school building to the new school building was both scary and exciting. The new school offers students new and improved learning resources, better ways of learning, more accessibility to equipment and so much more... I found that lessons/classes were a lot easier to find, as room numbers are simple and easy to understand so there was less confusion. All classrooms are inside which is more convenient and makes lessons more accessible. This also provides a safe environment for learning but still gives students the freedom they need by having more, larger learning areas. The main thing I like about the new building is the open classrooms because they provide students with independence and new ways to learn. I feel this makes the school more of a college environment rather than a high school. This enables students to be treat like young adults instead of children; encouraging them to be more mature and responsible. I also believe that the school offers a better learning environment with a calm atmosphere and bigger, more modern classrooms/working areas. As my favourite subject is art, I really like how the art department overlooks the school s surroundings, as it provides a great stimulus for artwork and provides a calm atmosphere to the department. Overall, I think that the new school has made a high impact on our way of learning and I feel that students respect the new school as it is an icon and stands out as a great school, bringing students and the community together as a whole....a college environment rather than a high school.
14 By Connor Miller Student at Darton College Darton College has created a much better learning environment for every student. During the last months at our old school everyone was anxious about the transition but strangely excited at the same time. The last few weeks in our old school began to fly by, as we could see our future learning space being constructed right before us. I frequently remember when we took a tour around our new school and saw the wide open learning spaces, but yet again I still didn t know what to expect an average school day would be like in the new college. The first few weeks in the new college were totally different to how they would have been in our previous school, we learnt in totally new styles of classrooms in open areas were back up staff could support us much quicker. The cafeteria impressed me significantly as we felt more mature that we could manage our dinner time on our own, and not have allocated times to eat our lunch and the food was cooked to a high standard. The designs of the building are eye catching; the open theatre at the back is used regularly and creates a great learning atmosphere while an office towers over it at the back. Overall the new school is outstanding and I m more than positive that it will stand out from the crowd of the other new schools recently starting to be built in Barnsley.
15 By Matthew Lees Student at Darton College The transition to the new school was a very exciting experience and students had different emotions and expectation about whether the move would be good or bad. My first reaction was that the new school would be too isolated, enclosed and would be restricted with the freedom we had compared to the old school being all open planned. However when I saw the design through virtual tours and picture on the school website I was shocked with the new layout of classrooms. The different types of learning environments we have within different lessons was amazing. However with these new working environments it will help us get a good understanding of how an office structure might be laid out in future life whether it s open planned with a lot of people or in an enclosed working environment. A great positive we have now is that we have great disabled parking and we have more students within the school who are disabled this means no one is excluded from learning at Darton College. Also in the new school we haven t had as much repairs being done compared to the old school which was in a dip and had regular floods when it rained. Working in a classroom that has new facilities rather than old and scruffy spaces which makes students happy in their environment. Overall I am very pleased with the outcome of this college and very proud to be at Darton....no one is excluded from learning at Darton College.
16 By Sharon Rossides Principal at Darton College The brief for this building was that it had to be more than just a building, more than just a school, it had to put something back into the community. It looks impressive, the setting is spectacular, the vision is inspiring and the effect it has had on all of us is immense. Working in such a spectacular building has had a real impact on students and staff alike. Students and staff are exploring learning and how the building can affect the raising of achievement, teaching and learning and behaviour and safety. This is making it an exciting place to be. The community are using it for sport, events and learning. Local Authority wellbeing teams are using it to support young people and families. Everyone who visits us comments on the atmosphere, the buzz and the calmness, that is because this is more than a building....this is more than a building. By Karine Jasper Assistant Principal at Darton College Working with staff and students alongside the team of architects and BMBC to design Darton College has been one of the greatest adventures of my life. It was never about a building, but about children, the community and raising aspirations and achievement to those of the best. Developing the vision for transformational learning, made possible using the latest ICT and bespoke flexible learning spaces, with the staff of every area. We worked together to change the culture to one of transparency and openness with learning at its heart. At times it felt insurmountable as we were trying to picture and plan for something we had never seen and were not certain we ever would, whilst striving to maintain and improve the day-to-day running of the school. The journey will never be finished, but we are well on our way.
18 By Janice Young PA to the Principal at Darton College Walking up the extensive tarmac driveway of Darton College I see in the distance a new, modern, angular, concrete and glass three-storey building. It is painted in Autumnal colours of gold, moss and cream, blending into a background of mature trees and gently undulating farmland fields inhabited with ducks and geese. The wind gently rustles through the newly planted pampas grass plants which bend and lean slowly from side to side, nestling amongst the brightly coloured flower beds which surround the College entrance. The welcome sign and the concrete benches next to the College glass doors fill me with reassurance as I sit down and take a few minutes to catch my breath and absorb the peace and tranquillity of this open space, my heart still gently pounding after my brisk walk up the long, isolated, sloping drive. I approach the entrance and the large automatic glass doors swoosh open, thrusting me into another world Darton College s vast Atrium. I look around, its a huge, square communal space that is surprisingly bright, light and airy with vertical glass windows all around. I look up to the ceiling and see pale blue sky and fluffy white clouds with an aeroplane disappearing into them through the skylight windows above me. The walls of the Atrium are white and clinical but interspersed with a number of black stencilled inspirational quotes. Each of the four corners of the Atrium are painted in bright colours and give access to the wings which house individual departmental learning spaces....transformed to a quiet, peaceful, relaxing, focused learning space for Darton College students. From the ground floor, two wide, white, concrete staircases rise from either side of the Atrium as if ascending up into Heaven. At the top of the staircases is the all glass Principal s office that overhangs and oversees the Atrium, the eye in the sky. Here the Principal can be seen looking out of her windows like a God or a ruler overlooking her empire and its inhabitants, always visible, watching and protecting her students and staff. The noise within the Atrium is loud, it is lunchtime. Students cheerfully chatter, infectious laughter can be heard whilst they talk excitedly to friends, play on their mobile phones, whilst relaxing in the easy chairs. Over by the dining area the sounds of cutlery and crockery are loudly clanked as trays dirty plates and cutlery are regimentally returned and placed in their holders. The smell of food mixed with traces of freshly brewed coffee envelopes the whole of the Atrium, stirring dormant taste buds, reminding everyone that its lunch time.
19 The soundtrack from The Little Shop of Horrors suddenly blasts out of the huge Atrium speakers, the regal, ruby red stage curtains at the back of the Atrium slowly open and a small group of students enthusiastically emerge from behind the curtains dancing, practising and perfecting their movements for tonight s performance to the local community. Students quickly gather to watch from every available viewpoint. The end of the performance earns the performers a hefty, heartfelt round of applause and appreciative whistles from their peers. At the end of lunchtime the students quickly disperse in all directions like snooker balls being hit on a snooker table. Queues of students begin to ascend the staircases to the upper floors to gain access to their lockers, the sound of keys being placed in the metal locks and locker doors being slammed shut echoes around the building. Staff give gentle but authoritative instructions to students top button fastened and tuck your shirt in can be heard. Down in the Atrium, everything has gone remarkably quiet, students have left the once bustling, busy meeting area and are now settled quietly in their classrooms in the College s wings, actively learning. The only sounds to be heard are dining room chairs being carefully stacked and the occasional high pitch shrill of an office telephone. To the left of the Atrium is the Learning Resource Centre with its bulging bookcases of rows and rows of brightly coloured best sellers and magazine racks stuffed full of newspapers and magazines all aimed at encouraging students to acquire a thirst for reading. Nearby, a small group of students sit on the pale grey, comfy, easy chairs relaxing but engrossed in their reading books. I stand, look around and reflect on this building, ten minutes ago this space was a crowded Atrium bursting with activity but now until the end of the College day it has been transformed to a quiet, peaceful, relaxing, focused learning space for Darton College students. It is a fantastic, unique and specifically designed College for year olds enabling them to pursue and achieve their goals.
20 By Rebecca Hodkin Curriculum Team Leader for English at Darton College The move to Darton College from Darton High School has been one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my working life. The process began with plans and architects drawings and ended with a wonderful building that is a pleasure to work in. The journey that Darton College has come on is so bound up with the journey of the building: from a rough piece of earth into an outstanding school. As a member of staff that has worked in both the old school and the new, I cannot underestimate the positive impact that the built environment has had on me personally. It is such a pleasure to look out of the windows, across the fields and the local community. The light in the North Wing gives the teaching spaces a feel of being outdoors, opening up the rooms and giving a feel of airiness and freedom. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the new build for the English Department is the way in which it has allowed us to become much more of a team. The way in which the open-plan spaces allow us to share our planning, ideas and resources is invaluable. It also means that we are now a much more supportive department which has grown stronger and more effective over the year and a half since the move into the new building. Overall, the experience has been positive for both students and staff. From the early worries and imagined spaces we are now at home, in all senses of the word. The light gives the spaces a feel of being outdoors...
21 By Sean Guy Progress Director (Associate SLT) at Darton College I joined Darton High School, as Science Curriculum Team Leader at Easter 2010 and looking at the old school and science department at the time, there was nothing to look at that would have made me to want to join... leaking roofs, boarded up windows and graffiti. However two things DID hit me straight away and ever since then I know I made the right decision. These were the amazing, inspirational teachers and the thought of working in the new college, at that time purely sketches on the reception wall. Walking around what was basically a shell with a plan in my hands I could visualise what a fantastic resource the students of Darton were getting. Throughout the move and the 18 months since, I feel privileged to work here. Why? This building has finally given the students the environment that makes coming to school pleasurable, there are utilities that not only work but enhance the learning and the students are making far greater progress. Furthermore, those students that endured the old and moved with the staff have felt an ownership of the building. They were the first of many generations to benefit from these facilities. It became their building - they ve looked after it and I d expect students that have come since to do the same - they re proud to say that they are members of Darton College. There have been teething problems, but it s about adapting - both for students and staff - a process harder in some ways, for the adults. Having said this, it has brought us all closer together both geographically and mentally. You re never far from another subject, unlike the disparate sprawl of the old school, and the layout means you re never far from support, a friendly piece of advice (or a good cup of coffee).
22 ...the transition period went more smoothly than we could have hoped for.
23 By Julie Woodhouse Head of Year 11/Intervention Manager During the new build both staff and students were given the opportunity to view the college and give their thoughts and feelings on it. On completion we were all invited to visit again and although a few were cynical about the open plan aspects the majority loved the idea and felt it would give departments a feeling of working together as a team. My initial thoughts and feelings about moving were quite mixed, the reasons for this were that whilst I knew the old building was drab, uninspiring and uninviting the thought of the huge move ahead was daunting. However, the transition period went more smoothly than we could have hoped for. The building is light, airy, welcoming and the views are fantastic. Students value the college and feel privileged to attend such an inspiring and impressive building. The open plan nature of the college lends itself to independent learning. Classroom teachers can use breakout areas to differentiate lessons and plan a variety of activities. The atrium and lecture theatre allow opportunities for whole school activities.this facilitates unique events (such as Health Day) and allows for cross-curricular planning and delivery. In my position as head of year parents and visitors often comment on the friendly, warm and welcoming atmosphere around the college. Overall I feel that the experience was a pleasant and positive move for the college. By Keith Wollerton Caretaker at Darton College Darton College is a fantastic building, built on three levels. It has easy access to all levels in the four wings of the college. Each wing has outstanding views of the countryside around Barnsley. With the excellent support of the teachers the pupils have a brilliant facility which will enable them not just to reach for the sky but to fly to the stars....not just to reach for the sky but to fly to the stars.
24 ...a greater connection between both staff and students from different classes and departments. By David Clapham ICT Strategy for Learning Manager at Darton College In the old school building ICT was limited to a number of rooms which were solely for the discreet subject or could be booked by staff. However, they were out of date and you had to move your class out of their normal teaching space and into the computer room. With the new building there is so much more flexibility and the computers can be brought to your classroom, meaning ICT doesn t have to take up the whole lesson. The computers can also be split amongst classes in an area and so the ICT we have goes a lot further. We have expanded on the ICT provision that we had in the old school to allow different types of learning to take place. Visualisers and learner response systems have allowed students work and answers to be fed back into the lesson instantly. We have streamed live video from one area of the building to be shown in another. There have been so many opportunities opened up to us now with ICT that learning and teaching is getting progressively better and more innovative. However, we are not standing still with ICT and continue to look at emerging and future technologies that may benefit the classroom. The design of the building accommodates some flexibility in the network infrastructure which means we can integrate new technologies without hassle. With the old building there were many corridors and rooms, with staff and students being almost disconnected from the rest of the school. In our new building everywhere is connected with the atrium being the heart. You can walk through the middle of a wing and get a flavour of what is going on in each class without causing disruption. The flexible spaces allow for classes to easily collaborate and share their learning experience. Overall it has developed a greater connection between both staff and students from different classes and departments.
25 By Tracy Chapman Curriculum Team Leader for History at Darton College Since moving to the new school in March 2011, students expectations and aspirations have increased as have teachers attitudes and the whole feeling around the school has improved. The building is exceptional in condition and in resources, the technology is phenomenal and all students have access to computers, filming and recording equipment. The sporting facilities are also excellent with lots of space on the astro turf and in the sports hall. Rooms are clean, spacious and well cared for by all who use them and the open planned nature of the building allows for greater sharing of good practice. Lots of areas around the school are designed differently so students get a different experience where they go. Staff who were scared about moving to a new building have embraced the changes and actually found themselves enjoying working in a totally new way of teaching.
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