Classroom Refurbishment Programme with Specialist Requirements

New College Worcester is a school for blind and partially sighted children and young people. TaskSpace had previously refurbished three classrooms at the school, which had been a great success with staff and students. 

The next phase of work at New College involved updating more classrooms which were looking dated and didn’t reflect the high quality of education being provided. One of the biggest problems was that the lighting was inadequate and uneven. In a school for young people with additional needs, it is important that every space is an enabling environment, optimised for teaching and learning.

For the classrooms to work on all levels as multi-sensory learning spaces we had to improve the lighting, the acoustics and the ambient temperature of the classrooms, ensuring that students and staff had the light and warmth that they needed to work productively. The team also had to design with the particular needs of blind and partially sighted people in mind, making the spatial flow of the classrooms logical, and coming up with practical storage solutions.

The first thing to tackle was the dated and poorly positioned lighting. We created a bespoke lighting design which ensured that every desk was individually lit to cater for the needs of each unique student. State of the art storage systems ensured that materials and learning resources are easily accessible and surfaces are kept clear. Tricky angles and spaces have been eliminated by creating built-in storage wall to wall or floor to ceiling, creating useful storage and easily navigable spaces. Feature flooring is textured in the classrooms to differentiate from corridors and helps to reduce distracting noise.

The use of bright colours throughout helps partially sighted students to recognise pin-boards and shelving and prevents the classrooms looking clinical. Even the door frames are contrasted in colour, allowing students to identify features of the rooms. Surfaces and flooring are also contrasted in texture and colour to allow students to identify and differentiate areas, while maintaining consistency across all three new classrooms. Every detail has been considered, with coat-hooks matching the colour of other practical features such as chairs and shelves.

New College selected TaskSpace from a shortlist of five potential suppliers for this project, with a brief to deliver a contemporary design, excellent value (particularly important when the budget includes public funding and private donations) along with a range of innovative solutions to the particular design challenges faced by the school.

The project schedule took three weeks, and was completed over the Easter period to minimise disruption. As a residential school, it was vital that the project was delivered on time, with TaskSpace working closely with school management to ensure that the project was managed in a way which considered the daily routines of resident students and staff.

New College Worcester was so pleased with the results of this project that they invited TaskSpace to attend an official event with Princess Anne as the school’s design partner. We are currently continuing with the next phase of the classroom refurbishment program at New College.