Remaking Learning - An education agenda for Barnsley
Barnsley is creating a brand new future for every learner in the Borough – demolishing all of its existing secondary schools and creating new 'Advanced Learning Centres' in their place. Unlike some local authorities, Barnsley is undertaking a 100% rebuild of its existing secondary school estate and with no refurbishment, PFI (Private, Finance Initiative) plays a significant part in the process. Divided into three stages, the construction of the 9 Advanced Learning Centres (as well as two new special schools) will commence in 2008 and be completed by 2012.
The development of the BSF project is only a part of the vision for 'Remaking Learning' in Barnsley. The Advanced Learning Centres are focal points in a new educational network, or 'Learning zones' that are designed to provide lifelong learning opportunities for the whole community. If this innovative programme is successful, the changes on a cultural level could be profound, offering a service and level of excellence that are perhaps unparalleled.
The holistic nature of the vision for Barnsley is what sets it apart from many other councils. Through this vision the town and its population are wholeheartedly investing in the future. Barnsley is remaking itself into a market town for the 21st century, casting off the shackles of its past whilst honouring the memory of a once prosperous mining heritage.
Each Advanced Learing Centre will:
- be new build and have state of the art provision for learners at each life stage beyond 11 years. Each will have a culture of ambition and high achievement, be a focus for the community and have an ethos of open access
- work closely with their neighbouring Primary Learning Centres and Children’s Centres and be open up to 48 weeks a year. Set times for school days and terms dates could become a thing of the past and be replaced by flexible arrangements for staff and learners
- be staffed by an enhanced range of educators, tutors, trainers and mentors who are highly trained in delivering a wide ranging curriculum to learners of all abilities who learn at different rates and have different learning styles; /span>
- exploit the potential of digital technologies to enhance teaching and learning including the potential for intelligent building management systems
- have new forms of leadership and governance to respond to the provision made and to reflect the multi-professional/para-professional workforce and learners using the centre
- make provision for up to 2000 students, with additional provision for adults to learn basic skills, achieve Level 2 qualifications or engage in learning for pleasure
- offer a wide range of pathways to further education, training and employment and
- have integrated Youth Service provision, allowing young people early access to personal advice and support, as well as exciting and enjoyable activities
- offer full service provision, ensuring swift and easy access to a range of support services for the student and their family
- be supported by a local Wellbeing Team, offering cross-service support from Tier 1 to Tier 4
- provide a specialism and a subsidiary and collaborate closely with Barnsley and Dearne Valley Colleges and work-based learning providers. Together they will provide a coherent offer to parents and learners in the community
- offer enhanced sport and leisure facilities for the community.
The capital investment in ICT within the BSF programme provides significant opportunities to transform learning and teaching. Ensuring that we tackle the digital divide is a key issue in ensuring equality of opportunity for all our learners. We will continue to grow community access through the Barnsley Learning Net, and in addition ALCs will be accessible for up to 48 weeks per year, likewise up to seven days a week and from early in the morning to late in the evening. We will explore opportunities for remote access through the 'Computers for Pupils' initiative and equipment loans to fully realise our vision of anywhere, anytime, anyplace, anyone learning.
BSF and the reorganisation of our secondary schools into ALCs give us the opportunity to develop post-16 provision.
The main reasons for this ambition are:
- a need to improve progression rates among young people, in particular those not in education, employment and training and those in employment without training
- a belief that more local provision will improve progression and outcomes for young people
- that post-16 provision will make the school more attractive to staff and prospective pupils, helping to address recruitment and retention issues in some cases.
There is a strong partnership between the LEA and the Learning and Skills Council South Yorkshire, reflected in a good 11-19 strategy and action plan. The LSC’s stance on post-16 provision in Barnsley is set out in the Strategic Area Review (StAR) and supporting action plan. The StAR concluded that there is no case for additional FE or school sixth form provision, but that opportunities for further post-16 provision on existing sites could be developed through collaborative working. The draft StAR action plan emphasises the 11-19 action plan as the basis for development. Common Design Features
All schools have fully embraced the full service extended school agenda. Crucial in their thinking has been the integration of support for pupils. This is reflected both in the developing ethos and practice of new ALCs but can also be clearly seen in their design specification. Provision of support agencies is integrated into the school design and in most cases office, interview and conference spaces are co-located with in-school services such as learning mentors. Such integrated provision allows the schools to develop a support structure that is available for all.
Also common to all schools has been thinking surrounding provision for pupils at risk of exclusion or those who have been exclude from the school. By working with the dispersed PRU and considering its placement with regard to other support provision, schools have been able to develop a practical, and design solution that provides a continuum of pastoral care.
All the Advanced Learning Centres have developed the idea of a community 'wing'. This has been expressed in different ways within each ALC but each has the key feature of the ability to zone the space and so allow adult use during school hours and be available for community use outside school hours.
The other significant area of community use will be the sports facilities at each ALC. It is recognised that these will be highly used and so will be designed and constructed to meet the appropriate Sport England standard. In addition the design of each of the ALCs will ensure access to the facilities and appropriate zoning.
Common features to all ALCs include:
- efficient circulation arrangements
- a new building centred around interactive learning zones and grouped learning areas
- the integration of ICT into the building design and the learning process including wireless technology
- facilities which support the delivery of the 21st century workforce agenda
- a personalised 14-19 curriculum for both vocational and academic learning
- flexibility in learning spaces
- welcoming entrance area for all ALC users
- use of outside environment to support learning
- an enhanced and extended school pattern of provision
- a learning environment and spaces which encourage civilised interaction between the building users
- a building which promotes environmental awareness and which is targeted on the future
- social spaces for students
- use of sustainable energy sources with efficient heating systems
- construction features which allow for use of natural light, airy rooms/spaces
- safer environment through:
- locker spaces for student
- safe access roads and paths (separating vehicles and people)
- turning circle for scholars’ buses
- intelligent building design incorporating flexible security features (ability to zone) / CCTV access control / cashless catering
- outdoor play areas which can also be used safely out of school hours
- recreation facilities which will draw pupils in at lunchtimes
- catering facilities, which are appropriate for the size of the school, but flexible enough to serve community use at other times.