Earlier this year LEGO® Education commissioned a pilot study to look at how to build future skills and to consider the role of creativity and playful learning in the classroom. One recommendation from the study was that opportunities for hands-on learning should be embedded throughout the curriculum to ensure that students of all abilities have the chance to learn by doing.
One school in Doncaster has embraced a hands-on learning approach through the introduction of a LEGO Education Innovation Studio, which is used by students across all year groups.
The 1,400-pupil Ridgewood School is renowned for being one of the UK’s leading Engineering Specialists Schools and strives to engender a real interest amongst its pupils in careers across the diverse fields of engineering, where traditional skills and the latest technologies combine.
The school (which became an Academy in 2011) posted a formidable set of GCSE results in 2013, with more than 92% of students achieving five A*-C grades, and it appeared that The Academy @ Ridgewood Trust had small need for change.
However, the progressive teaching team wanted to develop their offering beyond test performance results. They acknowledged a greater need to adapt teaching methods to align with the 21st century skills students must prepare for an increasingly fluid, interconnected and complex world.
The teaching team worked closely with the LEGO Education team to design an Innovation Studio that met their specific needs, choosing a variety of LEGO Education resources, primarily focused on design, technology and ICT and receiving training and help with curriculum planning. They decided to integrate the Studio in a newly designed building, with work spaces for 3D digital, electronic, robotics and engineering activities.
Now in its second year, the Studio has already made a big impact. Neil Wooliscroft, the school’s Director of Engineering and Technology comments: “The Studio has generated tremendous enthusiasm amongst staff and students alike and most importantly, it has made delivering the curriculum fun.”
According to the teachers, there has been a significant increase in the pupil’s opportunity to develop collaborative and hands-on learning. Teachers are seeing a new level of engagement including richer, deeper conversations with students who use the facilities outside of their lessons, and apply their knowledge effectively to real life scenarios.
Mrs Charters, Head of Design and Technology, comments: “Teaching goes way beyond a textbook. We know that there are many different kinds of ‘smart’ and sometimes, it can be challenging to identify and nurture individual potential across a broad spectrum of talent in the classroom. Within the studio environment however, we see students developing their skills at a fantastic pace, often through shared learning. It’s a great thing to observe.”
The full report ‘Building the Future: Creativity and Playful Learning in the classroom’ can be read online at LEGO Education.