Circular classrooms: A logical progression

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Right now pupils at the Pen Afan Primary School in Abergwynfi, South Wales, are benefitting from a novel approach to teaching and learning which is more inclusive, engenders more cooperation and therefore facilitates a better all round learning experience.
Pen Afan Primary School, with circular classrooms
How come? Well, it’s all because they attend the first school in the UK to adopt all circular classrooms – something that is now widely seen as a revolution in the pursuit of more innovative learning spaces.

In just the same way as theatre in the round is recognised as a powerful theatrical tool for engaging audiences, the circular classroom reaches out to youngsters who feel alienated by school and/or remote from their lessons.

Head of Property and Regeneration at Neath Port Talbot Council, Gareth Nutt, told the BBC: “Circular classrooms give the maximum teaching flexibility.

“Everybody’s included. Nobody’s at the back of the class, or in the ‘bad/naughty corner’, everybody’s in the class and the teacher is in control.”

The Hive circular classroom

Rendering courtesy of Architects of Group Genius via CLO Media

The circular learning environment has also been adopted by none other than Harvard Business School in the United States, which uses it as a collaborative learning space. Known as The Hive, the new style classroom has reportedly even prompted some teaching staff to reappraise their lesson plans in light of the opportunities the new dynamics present.

When I think about my school days one thing I remember is the pupils who would sit right at the back of the class, rarely engaging with the curriculum. It was as if the teacher’s power of influence somehow diminished toward the back of the room. Ours was definitely not an inclusive or collaborative space.

Looking back now I feel sorry for them. That’s because at the age they were they didn’t have the understanding to make an informed choice about engaging with lessons which served their best interests.

As a mother now, I am pleased to say that the game is changing for the better. For example, desks are no longer in rows and teaching staff are no longer anchored to the chalkboard thanks to the array of high tech learning resources that are available. In fact, learning today is more interactive, inclusive and engaging than at any time in the past.
SOLARDOME Vega at Felmore Primary School

But this success doesn’t mean that the pace of classroom evolution towards more innovative learning spaces will slow down – quite the opposite. After all, we know much more than we did about educational psychology even a generation ago, and that knowledge is now being applied at all levels of our education system. Consequently, the move towards circular classrooms is a very logical progression.

What do you think about circular classrooms? Are they innovative learning spaces or just a fad? Please let us know your thoughts below.

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