Unloved space transformed to support pastoral care


One of the North East’s leading Academies gets new development and wellbeing spaces thanks to the Dulux Trade team and its Smarter Spaces initiative.


Freeborough Academy in Brotton, near Redcar has over 800 pupils aged 11-16, as well as a Sixth Form Centre. The Academy is a leader in innovative design and has already overhauled its Sixth Form and a small atrium in the the main academy to improve pupils’ learning experiences.


After the success of these projects, Freeborough turned its attention to areas of the academy that sat unused, with the aim of reimagining two former classrooms to support students who face additional challenges.


Two cramped classroom spaces had proved problematic as they were originally designed for project-based work with the idea that teachers would choose to dip in and out of using them. As a result, they were too small for a class of 30 and were made even less appealing by dark green and orange paint work and overly harsh lighting. There was a clear lack of ownership of the rooms, resulting in them ending up as unloved dumping grounds.

The academy teamed up with Dulux Trade to breathe new life into the adjoining classrooms through careful consideration of who would and wouldn’t be using the rooms, so the design could be tailored to meet the specific needs of the occupants. Year 9 students worked closely with the Dulux Trade team to put a plan together to maximise the spaces, with colour and accessibility for all being highlighted as key requirements.

The design team focused on driving ownership of the room for the pupils. The Dulux Trade team of Commercial Colour Consultants developed a new colour scheme that took into consideration how the two spaces were to be used and how best to use colour to produce a calming and homely environment. Walls were repainted in calm blue tones using Dulux Trade Diamond Eggshell, with softer lighting. The blue tones were paired with vibrant wallpaper to make a clear distinction between the classrooms and pastoral care rooms. The woodwork was painted in Dulux Trade Quick Dry Satinwood, ensuring that the wood would be scratch and grease resistant, and have a brilliant finish for years to come. New furniture was used to create a learning area and a breakout space while plants were also introduced into the rooms to create a link with nature.

The new space proved ideal for the pastoral team, who could use it for meetings with students and parents, holding one-to-one sessions and working with small groups of students in a calm, quiet environment. Heather Blackburn, Director of Learning at Freeborough Academy, says: “We have a number of students who come into school in the morning already in crisis. “Previously our pastoral team didn’t have a designated space that they could use to help these pupils overcome these issues before starting their learning day. Pastoral leaders can now take students into their room and give them food and a drink in the morning, or at any point in the day. “When students come into the room they decide where they sit – on the bean bags, the sofa, by the table etc, and some students immediately opt for the bean bags and may even sleep. “Pastoral leaders work with lots of students each day, some students need a space like this so that they feel safe and secure to discuss personal issues or problems and then can be offered solutions. This all helps to ensure they stay in school without affecting others or losing learning time.”

Marketing Manager Contractor Specifier, Paul Fleming, says: “Our team of specification experts focus on desired occupant outcomes, using evidence based design principles to ensure that a refurb delivers tangible results on the performance of a school. The new room at Freeborough Academy gives the school a space that makes it easier to improve the wellbeing of pupils who need extra support. “We also know that schools are very high footfall areas, and we wanted the new room to be used by as many people as possible, durability and protection was also key. Our Dulux Trade Diamond Eggshell is a tough waterborne emulsion that protects against scuffs and stains. It’s also quick drying, which is important on a project that has to be turned around quickly to fit in with the schedule of a busy school.” The Smarter Spaces initiative aims to help teachers and children thrive through the power of their school environment, by enabling schools to design their environments to support better teaching and learning. Teachers and children are involved in design, fostering a sense of collaboration, pride and shared identity. To read more about the SSAT and Schools’ Smarter Spaces finding, download the report here.

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