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Top of the Class

Smarter Spaces 2016 Young Designers Competition reveals its new look

In this case study, we look at the makeover of Ursuline Academy and the outcome that the transformation has had on both students and teachers.

Dulux Smarter Spaces is a colour, design, planning and project management service developed especially to help empower schools to improve their learning environment. Smarter Spaces is not a vision for a brand, it's a movement for the educational sector as a whole. To deliver this, we're working with councils and schools across the country to design learning spaces that are not only inspiring and stimulating, but meet the needs of the busy learning environment. The mission is simple: to help teachers and children thrive through the power of their school surroundings.

As part of our initiative, we run a competition every year to get students involved in the design of their learning environment, as we believe letting kids have a say in their surroundings is the key to engaging them at school. As part of the competition, students across the UK were encouraged to choose an area in their school that would benefit from a makeover, how they would like it to look and why.

One of the two winning entries was the Ursuline Academy in Ilford, Redbridge, which won a free Dulux Smarter Spaces makeover as its prize. Students at the girl's school said their Design and Technology (DT) classroom needed a makeover so they could "let their imaginations be set free."

Their design concept focused on creating a classroom which "stimulated ideas", encouraging more girls to take up DT as one of their subjects.

Students worked with Dulux's professional design team to build on that concept, creating a classroom that echoes inspirational words from historical figures such as civil rights activist Maya Angelou and tech revolutionary like Steve Jobs.

Edna Reilly, Head of Design and Technology at Ursuline Academy said;

"The Smarter Spaces Young Designers Competition has been a fantastic experience and has empowered the girls to take ownership over their school. Working as a team helped refine the students' communication and planning skills, whilst collaborating with Dulux to bring the design to life gave them first-hand experience of managing a real life project.

"It is great for the students to see their design up on the walls and it was wonderful to see their faces when they first saw the new classroom."

Student Madeline Doves explains what skills she learnt from entering the competition:

"I think the impact that doing this project has made is that it's helped me speak to loads of people. It's helped our group and other people doing the project develop ideas, we learnt about costing and market research, and I think it's inspired people's GCSE projects. The fact that I've been involved and have had so many of my ideas go into this makes me feel really joyful."

Fellow student Madeline Anorson adds:

"What I learnt from the process is how to build a portfolio and how to collect all the necessary data. We had to think about the school community as they were the ones who would be using the room, and we aso had to think about the teachers as they'd be teaching in the room and needed to have a say. So we had to incorporate other people's ideas into designs. We also wanted to encourage people to recycle, so that's why we used the green theme. Now when I look at the walls, that's the work I've done and I feel proud that I did that, and me and my peers have encouraged other people to be creative."

Find out more about the Smarter Spaces and how your school can get involved.