I was fortunate enough to have a fantastic couple of days in Newcastle this week – with two impressive school buildings featuring alongside the Angel of the North, the SAGE building and the Tyne bridges in my visual memories of the trip. It’s not easy to describe Monkseaton and St Robert of Newminster – I’m afraid I was so interested in what was going on inside the buildings that I didn’t take any pictures! But each building had been carefully designed – no hidden corners, lots of curves, impressions of space, breakout areas and lots of natural light.
But school buildings are only the packaging for the learning that is going on inside. Monkseaton are using a method called Spaced Learning, which builds gaps into a lesson by including something physical, something distracting and unrelated to what is being learnt, so that process of letting the learning sink in can take place. It’s not something to use in every lesson – after all, we all know that variety is the spice of life and learning – but it certainly seems to be having an impact on the learning that is going on. It makes a lot of sense to me, as often it’s when I’m doing something mundane and physical – usually vacuuming or ironing(!) – that something I have been reading or learning or thinking about really sinks in to my consciousness so I can make sense of it. Continue reading →