West Hill Primary School in South London was one of the pilot schemes that was part of our 30-month research programme looking at the implications of personalised learning on school design. This was focused on adapting the learning experience to reflect that different people learn in different ways and at different speeds.

The wider research was desk and field-based exploring personalised learning from a technology, pedagogy, school organisation, space and beyond-schools perspective. The delivery and assessment of pilot schemes helped with the development of tools and processes for incorporating personalised learning. These are still being used by schools today.

Using the results of the wider research programme, at West Hill Primary School, we worked with the key stakeholders — teachers, students and the local authority alike — to transform the heart of this Victorian school building. The priorities for the stakeholders were for:

  • Outstanding teaching and learning at all levels
  • Pupils having more ownership of their learning
  • Good support for all pupils through people, resources and the physical environment
  • Increasing children’s readiness to learn through developing their social and emotional wellbeing.

The underutilised central hall, formally operating as just a link between different parts of the school and as such a main thoroughfare, became the focal point for the transformation of the West Hill Primary school and the implementation of more personalised learning. A generous and flexible space, the hall is now an active and special place for all the students. Fixed and movable elements create intuitive and flexible environments, which enable large-scale interactive learning for over 60 students.

More focused individual learning takes place in the fixed booth seating. Bespoke elements maintain boundaries and zones, enabling the hall to still act as one of the main connecting points in the school. Storage walls are also integrated around the perimeter with write-on magnetic finishes.

Even with this new, exciting, intuitive and usable space, we worked with the school on a programme of change management, supporting the users, creating ownership, and fostering a sense of value and trust in the students.