Creative Learning space for teachers

By Alex More

This summer we created the ‘Learning Lounge’ at Shaftesbury School in North Dorset. This is a space for teachers to relax, read, recharge and learn.  The total cost = £97-17 ($126 approx). It doesn’t have to cost the earth to reward staff, create a space and improve well being! I have been contacted by quite a few people about how we did it in a time when budgets in schools are tight, or non-existent. I reckon it would be cool for every school to have a space like this so if you are interested read on …

It started with a space. The boss was kind enough to offer a tired old staff room at the top of our oldest building. This seldom visited space offered the perfect canvas for the project. Here’s the before pictures:

After asking around, salvaging some old furniture, books, chairs and wood we created this space. It’s amazing what people throw away. Most of what we salvaged was destined for landfill. Here’s the after pictures;

Why we did it?

To create a space that staff felt was theirs. Somewhere they could relax between the madness of the school day, make a brew, read a book, listen to some music or do some work. School’s are busy places and teachers are busy people. There has been much written in the press about teacher well being, staffing shortages and the work force being stretched to capacity. When combined with headlines about restricted school funds and stressed out staff, anything we can do to provide a sanctuary for well being must be worth the investment.

Have staff been using the learning lounge? 

So far, yes! The space has been used for quiet thinking time, catching up with colleagues, focus group meetings, 1:1 meetings, lesson feedback chats, planning, marking, thinking, reading and studying. 

Inspiration for the space came from companies who value their employees; Lush Cosmetics, Google and Patagonia. One colleague joked it feels more like a coffee shop than a working space which is cool. After all, it’s more an escape place than work place. The work part is optional. 

We are hugely grateful to Marc who heads up Lush Cosmetics upcycling team in Poole. The team, under Marc’s guidance have an epic outlook on reusing, recycling, up cycling and reclaiming things. Nothing goes to waste and their ethics, values and dedication are visionary in an age where as consumers we are throwing more into landfill than ever before. Marc was able to spare some wall units, cubes and other items to help us fill the space. If more companies thought like this our world would be a better place. 

What’s in the space? 

  • A kitchen with free access to tea and coffee
  • Educational books and general interest
  • Academic Journals
  • A music station with CD’s
  • Some plants
  • A PC and lap top stands
  • Writable surfaces and lots of them
  • Paper, pens and stuff
  • Power supplies
  • Information and posters
  • Comfortable furniture

If you are interested in any of the ideas above or intrigued and want to find out more details on how we made the stuff,  Click here:

Massive thank you to Marc and the team at upcycling team in Poole. Thanks to Lush, the site staff at school and anyone that helped carry stuff, move stuff and paint! 

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