Queen Anne’s School has won the 2016 TES Independent Schools Award for ‘outstanding post-16 innovative provision’ for its new sixth-form centre which was designed to fulfil the philosophy behind its BrainCanDo educational neuroscience project.
Found by the judges to be ‘A superb project to help pupils bridge the gap between being a child and an adult’, the building, designed by Lewandowski Architects, provides an environment that enhances teaching and learning for the school’s sixth formers, liberating them from traditional classroom environments and helping them to prepare for life beyond school. The new sixth-form centre – ‘The Space’ – is a major step in the implementation of Queen Anne’s School’s research.
BrainCanDo is based on the principle that understanding the function and development of the brain, neuroplasticity and mindset is of the utmost importance in education. Queen Anne’s School currently works with three leading universities – Oxford, Goldsmiths and Reading – linking science and education by conducting neuroscientific and psychological research that delivers improved methods of learning.
Julia Harrington, Headmistress of Queen Anne’s School and the inspiration behind BrainCanDo, said:
‘BrainCanDo is now in its fourth year and has already reaped results in terms of the girls’ understanding of how their brains work, and helping them to prepare for exams and manage stress.’
‘Every learner is unique. Our new building gives students the opportunity to take control of their own learning and to use the technologies that best suit them. We asked Lewandowski Architects to look at furniture design, spatial planning and architectural design as well as new technologies, and also ran competitions within the school for the girls to come up with themes for the breakout centres.’
Alex Chapman of Lewandowski Architects, said:
‘We are passionate about the relationship between the built environment and its impact on education. We refurbished a teaching block at Eton College to produce The Tony Little Centre for Innovation and Research in Learning but the opportunity and ambition at Queen Anne’s was on a much larger scale. We are thrilled not only that the teaching staff and the girls at the School are so happy with the result, but that this TES award recognises what we set out to do in creating a new and exciting learning environment.’
The Space is equipped with an entirely digital library; breakout centres offering creative zones with different themes; large study pods providing enclosed workspaces where students can engage in seminars or group work; interactive screens allowing users to project and control media from computers and mobile devices; walls coated with write-on projectable wallpapers; segmental tables which can be arranged in whatever patterns are required; and chairs that can be safely tilted forwards or backwards to straighten the pelvis and spine, improving circulation to the abdominal and back muscles.
BrainCanDo’s current research projects include: the effect of studying music on academic performance; encouraging self-affirmation and examining its impact on cognitive tests; how attitudes to learning and behaviour in the classroom can become contagious.