In recent years the educational world has developed a better understanding of the importance of the learning space in the learning process; matching durable and aesthetically pleasing buildings that are also fully functional and fit for purpose. In 2014 it has become evident that we have reached a stage in The British School's development where the Tafira learning spaces are not fit for purpose nor meet our pedagogical needs.
The Tafira site's infrastructure has grown and developed, over almost 50 years, with extensions and additions being made to accommodate more students, older pupils and additional curricular areas. This gradual extension of facilities has led to a situation which lacks coordinated school campus planning, some classrooms not being fit for purpose - often being initially designed for other functions - and certain features that would not meet international design and safety standards.
One major reason that the current school buildings are not adequate and appropriate is the dramatic change in expectations and emphasis in educational philosophy; facilities that were suitable and functional in 1990, let alone 1966, are now outdated and becoming obsolete. In 20th Century, education focused on inculcating knowledge and competencies necessary for the Industrial Age, normally teacher-directed with the emphasis on uniformity and conformity, and the learning environment being compartmentalised by age and detached from the community. Schools and classroom design reflected the norms of the Age, particularly teacher directed teaching and learning.
The 21st Century has witnessed a paradigm shift where globalization and unpredictable economic and social events are shaping the world and, consequentially, education. Schools must prepare young people for a world of uncertainty, change and rapid transformation, enabling their students to develop the competencies of adaptability, creativity, collaboration, responsiveness and to become self-directed and self-managed – skills that are essential for the future. 20th Century teaching methodologies, which relied upon teachers imparting their knowledge, are outdated as the 21st Century competencies cannot be developed by teachers instructing their students how to be creative or adaptable; these skills can only be truly learned thorough active, inquiry based, and real-life, learning experiences. The British School has articulated its vision of the education we wish to provide within the School Development Plan and has identified curricular, teaching methodologies, student dispositions and social responsibilities that we wish to develop. However, alongside these developments, is the school setting; the need to provide a daily learning environment that can inspire the creativity, active learning, investigation, collaboration and self-expression needed in today's education.
The proposed new facilities contemplates the new learning paradigm and incorporates many important features to support teaching and learning in the 21st Century;
- Classrooms connect to outside learning spaces.
- Close inter connection between year groups, for cross year group learning opportunities.
- Numerous spaces for individual and small group work.
- Larger classrooms, providing more space for dynamic learning environments.
- Specialist Secondary facilities in science, art and music.
- Internal areas for working in large groups or for cross-curricular workshops and performances.
- ICT connection within the school and to the outside world through a fully integrated network.
- Division of school into small communities to ensure student care, well-being and safety.
- A united and holistic school campus to develop whole school community.
These features, and our commitment to supporting our students in the best way possible, make this project so important and central to the educational provision of The British School of Gran Canaria.