Welcome to the educational revolution that is New Line Learning Academy.
Children and staff are settling into their smart and modern learning environment after years of preparation and building. The site looks slightly unfinished with constructors still there but to all intents and purposes it’s fully functional and open for business.
And in fact business is the operative word as much of the innovation in the way children are now being taught at NLL is taken from the world of commerce. The academy has a strong relationship with Apple, which has had an influence on the design.
I was invited on a tour of the academy by the head Guy Hewett and you can’t fail to be quite awestruck by what going on.
Whether it will benefit children in the long run remains to be seen. The school is convinced it will improve results markedly (to be fair it’s starting from a fairly low base from a couple of years ago).
Much of the teaching is based around large groups of children taught in ‘plazas’ by teams of three teachers. The classes are then given tasks and pupils split into smaller groups.
Toilets and locker areas are integated within the learning environment to prevent potential ‘enclaves’ where misbehaviour and intimidation can occur. Each pupil gets an all-encompassing fob which gets them around the building, buys them lunch, and opens their locker. A recipe for disaster given children’s knack of losing things, I suggested to Mr Hewett, but he was confident it wouldn’t be a problem.
NLL executive head Chris Gerry suggests the academy is setting the trail for modern teaching away from the one teacher addressing rows of desks occupied by bored and disengaged children. We’ll see if he’s right.