How Kent Schools Have Adapted Learning Spaces for COVID-19

With children now back in school and the coronavirus ‘R’ rate rising rapidly across Kent, schools are taking various measures to ensure staff and children are kept safe during their return to school. 

At the moment, the priority for schools is to bring children up to speed while also looking after their wellbeing. As many children have gone over six months without attending school, some are anxious about returning, while others are concerned about how long it will take them to get up to speed before exams. 

Although home schooling resources have helped parents during the pandemic, there’s no substitute for being in school, both for learning and socialisation reasons. Speaking on the subject, Founder of Caterpillar Learners Vicki Raven said that parents are concerned “about the short and long term mental health effects in their children. They are concerned about how their children will cope if schools don’t make allowances for the time lost and how they will catch up if they fall behind.”

Although a lot of children and parents are keen for schools to get back to normal again, the current government regulations mean the way schools operate must change dramatically to ensure they are Covid-compliant. The main way that schools are responding to this challenge is by creating more space by transforming unused space into classroom areas. By doing this, schools are able to socially distance students and create smaller class sizes and ‘bubbles’. This means that, should someone show symptoms of the virus, fewer people need to self-isolate and disruption is minimised. 

As part of this, many schools across Kent have been creative with the way that they have used their space and have turned sports halls and canteens into learning spaces. Similarly, many have implemented one-way systems throughout the school and others have completely changed their pick-up and drop-off schedules to limit crowding around the school gates. 

Some schools, however, have taken things a step further and have looked to implement outdoor learning. This has multiple benefits because - not only does outdoor learning create space - but research has shown that natural light improves morale. However, with summer drawing to a close and temperatures plummeting, full outdoor learning is no longer possible. As a result, many schools are looking to add modular classrooms to their grounds. This is because these units allow schools to create space and mean that children can receive the same benefits they would if they were learning outdoors. In fact, according to Modular Classrooms by TG Escapes, 16 school projects have been undertaken across Kent, including an eco-classroom at Herne C of E Infant and Nursery School.

Overall, it seems as though these modular classrooms could be a viable way for schools to create more space during Covid-times. This is because not only does a building like this provide children with extra space, but the design of the building maximises the amount of natural light the children receive, which has been shown to promote learning. In addition, structures like this can also help students with their focus, attention and memory, which can lead to better exam results.

How is your school adapting classrooms and buildings to accommodate changes to coronavirus legislation? Share your stories with us.

A recent survey of schoolteachers and leaders showed that 44% are worried about what will happen returning to the classroom this term. Education staff are busy creating resources, planning lessons, and revamping classrooms but the level of uncertainty is overwhelming. There is a lot of pressure on teachers at the moment; so to help ease some of the stress, here are our 6 Back to School Tips for Teachers After COVID-19.

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