Affordance of Scotland’s pre-war schools in the provision of twenty-first century learning
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date29/11/2022
Nik Azhari, Nik Farhanah
The launch of the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland has resulted in an extensive school building programme to rebuild or refurbish local authority schools nationwide. The Scottish Government has vowed to improve all of the school estate remaining in poor or bad ‘condition’ and ‘suitability’, in addition to constructing new school buildings that reflect 21st-century learning. The encouraging investment however raises questions on the learning experience for children and young people in remaining school buildings with more than a quarter per cent that predate World War II. This study, therefore, focuses on what pre-war schools offer for the pupils by scrutinising the factors that qualify the affordance of pre-war schools in the provision of 21st-century learning. Similar interests have been evident within the context of architecture, but little attention was given concerning educational spaces particularly schools. Prior to investigating what pre-war schools afford, this research gathers evidence on how pupils learn; where learning takes place; and what features support learning. This study incorporates three different methods of qualitative data collection: observation of the pupils’ learning; interview of the classroom teacher; and focus group ‘design charrette’, which is an alternative mean of communication with the Primary 6 pupils through a series of collaborative activities. Three case studies were selected within the City of Edinburgh, constituting two Victorian, and one 1930’s pre-war school. Generally, an analysis of the data showed that pupils learn both actively and passively in pre-war schools. Learning takes place mainly in the individual classroom area and elsewhere within the school building, but rarely in the outdoor area. The pupils highlighted ‘leisure’ as an elementary feature that supports learning in addition to ‘resources’ and ‘furnishing’. The study suggests that for pre-war schools to offer exceptional quality of learning experience as in the new-build schools, three interdependent factors need to be addressed: social, spatial, and physical factors.