In Denmark, the corona pandemic has revealed shortcomings in the way that many schools are organised. This is the conclusion drawn by Britta Hjuler, an architect and partner at Pluskontoret Arkitekter A/S. She has many years of experience in the field of children and learning. According to her, future school renovations and new schools should take account of a number of factors.
#1 Better hygiene
Even before the pandemic, poor toilet facilities were frequently highlighted in occupational health and safety surveys conducted among school pupils. The pandemic has attracted further attention to the importance of hygiene in schools. Enough facilities are needed for hand-washing, and a good indoor climate is also important:
“The Danish Health Authority recommends one toilet for every 10-15 pupils, depending on their ages. Unfortunately, at many schools the existing facilities support neither a healthy indoor climate nor good hygiene standards, and toilet capacity is often inadequate,” says Britta Hjuler.
#2 More outdoor teaching
During the pandemic, most schools have been forced to move some of their teaching outside. It has – both literally and figuratively – provided a breath of fresh air, but according to Britta Hjuler, there is no reason why schools cannot organise outdoor spaces to cater more effectively for outdoor lessons:
“Natural gathering places outdoors are needed. It’s important to have spaces that are sheltered from the elements and with a worktop, and where it’s possible to come together for longer periods of time as a base for outdoor teaching activities. In this way, the outdoor spaces can become as integral a part of the school as any other specialist classrooms,” she says.
#3 Space for varied teaching
There has long been a desire to rethink the traditional classroom. Not least because research shows that children thrive better and learn more if they don’t have to sit on a chair and stare at the blackboard all day. This need has only been further accentuated by the pandemic, says Britta Hjuler:
“A differentiated learning environment makes it possible to accommodate teaching in smaller groups, differentiated and increased adult contact where the need is greatest, immersive activities and social learning such as group work as well as peer-to-peer learning,” she says.
#4 Create space for online teaching
Many pupils have probably had more than enough of online teaching, but after the pandemic, online teaching will once again come to play a role, says Britta Hjuler:
“Online teaching has proved to be an effective tool and a good supplement to conventional classes. It is probably unlikely that plenary teaching activities will take place online, but there is no doubt that the computer is an effective tool in connection with immersive activities, training exercises, project assignments and presentations. We are therefore going to need spaces where pupils can immerse themselves in their exercises and project work. Schools also need to have plenty of power sockets, network access points and monitors for connecting up so that computers can be integrated in multiple learning forms,” she says.