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There are currently 1.2 million 16-18 year olds in England studying on a full-time basis. Sixth form spaces act as the bridge between secondary education and higher education and so play a pivotal role in shaping students’ academic, social, and personal development. These spaces are extensions of the learning environment, designed to be vibrant social hubs where students transition into young adults, explore their interests, and prepare for the next phase of their lives. Designing these spaces requires thoughtful consideration to foster a culture of learning, collaboration, and growth.

Flexibility and Adaptability

One of the fundamental principles in designing sixth form spaces is flexibility. These environments should cater for diverse learning styles and activities. Incorporating mobile furniture, partitions, and modular designs enables spaces to be easily reconfigured for lectures, group discussions, independent study, and social events. Flexibility empowers students and educators to personalise their environment according to their needs, creating a sense of ownership, engagement and belonging.

Technology Integration

In today’s digital age, technology is an integral part of education. Sixth form spaces should be equipped with state-of-the-art technology to facilitate interactive learning experiences. This includes smart boards, multimedia projectors, high-speed internet access, and charging stations for personal devices. Integrating technology seamlessly into the learning environment not only enhances teaching and learning but also prepares students for the digital demands of higher education and the workforce.

Comfort and Well-being

Creating a comfortable and nurturing environment is paramount for student well-being and productivity. Natural light, ergonomic furniture, good ventilation, and acoustical considerations contribute to a conducive learning environment. Introducing a broad range of different areas such as breakout areas, relaxation zones, and green spaces provides students with opportunities to relax, recharge, socialise, and manage stress effectively. Prioritising well-being in design takes a holistic view of spatial layout, light, colour palette and furniture form and function to promote a positive atmosphere that supports student development.

Collaborative Spaces

Sixth form education centres around collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Designing collaborative spaces that encourage teamwork, creativity, and innovation is essential. These spaces can range from informal lounges and group study rooms to project labs and maker spaces. Flexible furniture arrangements, writable surfaces, and multimedia tools facilitate brainstorming sessions, group projects, and peer-to-peer learning. Creating a collaborative culture empowers students to share ideas, work together, and develop essential skills needed for the future.

Inclusive Design

Inclusivity should be at the core of sixth form centre design. Spaces should be accessible to students of all abilities, ensuring equal opportunities for learning and participation. This includes wheelchair accessibility, adjustable furniture, sensory-friendly environments, neurodiversity, and inclusive signage. Designing for diversity and inclusivity promotes equity among students and creates a whole-school approach to one learning community.

Student-Centered Design

A student-centered approach is key to achieving the best engagement from students in their sixth form space. Co-designing the environment with students, and involving them in the process through surveys, focus groups, or workshops ensures their needs and ideas are considered and their voices are heard. Through design discussions, students feel empowered to take ownership of their learning environment, promoting a sense of responsibility and accountability. A sixth form space for students, designed by students, is the ideal way to improve student retention and attract new students to your school.

Environmental Sustainability

We all have a responsibility to reduce our impact on the environment and preserve Earth’s natural resources for our future generations. It is a key design principle to look for sustainable solutions. Sixth form spaces should prioritise energy efficiency, waste reduction, and the use of eco-friendly materials. Implementing features such as solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, and green roofs demonstrates a commitment to environmental management and inspires students to adopt sustainable practices. Educating students about the importance of sustainability through design encourages environmental awareness and responsibility.

Community Engagement

Sixth form spaces can serve as hubs not only for students but also for the wider community. Designing spaces that are accessible and welcoming to parents, alumni, and residents strengthens community engagement and partnerships. Multi-purpose facilities, such as auditoriums and exhibition spaces can host events, workshops, and cultural activities that enrich the educational experience and nurture relationships with the local community.

The Morleys Advantage

Morleys believe sixth form spaces should be co-designed social hubs that support student well-being and academic success. Through aspirational design and a student-centered approach we help you create vibrant and inspirational areas for social interaction and calm and motivational zones for quiet, focussed study. Through cohesive and collaborative design we create spaces where learners develop the essential skills needed to flourish in their future careers and adult lives.

If you have an education project in the pipeline and would like to know more about the benefits of working with Morleys and the service we offer as FF&E design consultants, please get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

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