Acklam Grange School, Middlesbrough

Acklam Grange outside classroom Case StudyRoyal stamp of approval for Acklam Grange School’s most unusual outside classroom at official opening

His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester attended the official opening of Acklam Grange School in Middlesbrough, one of the first three schools to be built under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) project.

Acklam Grange was the focus of a £23.4m redesign. At its opening, the Headteacher John Bate said the school was amazing, innovative and “even better than we imagined”.

Keen to involve pupils in the planning process and foster a feeling of ownership, the college challenged them to design their new outside classroom facilities, aided by designers who helped them work out how they could make their new school more sustainable.

Year 9 pupils came up with a novel design to improve their school by including a classroom of the future and a recycling unit and were encouraged to enter their innovative ideas into the national Design of the Times (DOTT) competition, run by the Design Council. They produced the winning design in the north east and were rewarded with £25,000 to install a SOLARDOME® Sanctuary (7.75m diameter) as a focal point of the school’s sustainability activities.

Pupils told the Duke how they learn about environmental issues through their work in the dome and how it provides a base for growing, lessons on working with structures and running an interactive weather station.

Headteacher John Bate enthused:

“What an opportunity! Our 21st century specialist college will offer our pupils everything they deserve and need. Our outdoor learning environment, encompassing the geodesic dome situated between the brand new science faculty and our sizeable technology project area, provides a perfect facility to develop pupils’ work on environmental issues and sustainability.”

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