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School Rips Up the Rulebook to Create Future-inspired ‘Flexible Classrooms’ for Pupils

Independent West Sussex prep school, Windlesham House, has opened a number of new flexible classrooms as part of its commitment to invest in innovative learning spaces that are equipped to prepare children for the changing world. 

Break out spaces and floor cushions have been installed in place of traditional desks and chairs

In line with its four-year digital strategy, the school has opened the flexible classrooms to foster a collaborative learning environment that inspires reflection, resilience and ownership, while promoting autonomy.

The new flexible classrooms are divided into a range of coloured zones aimed at modelling critical thinking, questioning and risk taking.

The Gather Zone (in orange) is where the modelling and teaching happens in short 15-minute blocks to avoid cognitive overload.

The Collaboration Zone (in green) is a learning space where pupils can discuss ideas, talk to each other, use whiteboards to model thoughts or iPads to complete work such as short films which can be presented in different formats.

There is also a Reflection Zone (in blue) which is a quiet, independent area of learning where pupils can work alone and listen to music on their headphones.

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Commenting on the modern learning spaces, Ben Evans, Headmaster at Windlesham House, said: “Environment and setting plays an essential role in learning. 

“Children can spend many hours every day in a classroom, so it is important that they feel safe, happy, calm and able to learn effectively. 

“We are keen on inspiring a community of confident, productive young learners. Our flexible classrooms give them a variety of innovative spaces where they can work collaboratively with peers or independently in a peaceful zone as needed.”

The school’s flexible classrooms include a variety of soft furnishings from comfy sofas, and floor cushions as well as high- and low-level desks with writable surfaces to inspire freedom of movement. These classrooms will play an essential role in the pupils’ learning day to day and are designed to nurture a community that learns, studies and explores the changing world, while personalising individual learning habits.

“It is our belief that removing the physical barrier of a ‘teacher behind a desk’ will encourage greater and more active collaboration in lessons as well as improved concentration. Our flexible classrooms also give children the time to reflect on their choices, putting them in control of their learning journey. School is not just about passing tests, it is about critical thinking, questioning and risk taking in a safe and fun environment,” added Mr Evans.

Flexible classroom at Windlesham House School.  Two boys sitting on cushions with a lap desk

Teachers are now able to plan lessons with the various spaces in mind giving the pupils differentiated tasks and learning outcomes. The feedback from pupils has also been very positive.

One Year 5 pupil said: “I love the new flexible classrooms and the furniture. When I first walked in, I noticed a speech bubble with words and their meanings. I think it will help me to learn better because the room is relaxing and calming for studying.”

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