Preston-based bespoke joinery firm, JSJ UK, is helping local teachers to build self-esteem, life skills, positive attitudes to learning and strong grades for their pupils through the part-donation and creation of an outdoor classroom.
Chorley St Peter’s CofE Primary School had hoped to follow Ofsted guidance by creating an outdoor learning environment on school grounds, but costs threatened to prevent the project from going ahead, limiting opportunities for youngsters.
Taking lessons outside the usual environment enriches the curriculum, boosts attainment, and helps improve behaviour. Finding appropriate locations for lessons, however, can be a challenge, particularly if learning outside of the classroom is to take place multiple times a term for every class.
When faced with this challenge, teachers at Chorley St Peter’s approached Preston joinery manufacturers JSJ UK. Determined to deliver for the school, designers at JSJ UK redrew plans following a visual design concept brief with school staff, adjusted material choices, and – crucially – committed to gift 25 per cent of the project’s cost as a donation to the school.
Tasked with creating a structure for the school grounds that could hold a full class in an engaging, comfortable environment, JSJ UK has delivered a build that will connect students to nature and the outside world in rain or shine.
Built from environmentally friendly and cost-efficient red grandis, the octagonal structure creates a convivial environment inside, enhanced by a vaulted ceiling to give an open, airy atmosphere. Bench seating lines the sides and UPVC windows and doors connect the classroom with the outdoors and provide easy access. The resulting classroom is warm and bright, and offers a completely different atmosphere to classrooms within the school.
On-site for five weeks, predominantly during term time, JSJ UK ensured the safety of school children throughout, causing minimal disruption to the school day.
Jack Smith, managing director at JSJ UK, said: “We embraced the challenge of creating a cost-efficient learning space that would inspire children, and be a fun, engaging place in all weathers, and it was a pleasure to bring Chorley St Peter’s vision for an outdoor classroom to life.
“We think of ourselves as part of our community and wanted to support the learning of local youngsters, so the build was partly a gift to the school and its children. Outdoor classrooms help broaden horizons and build self-esteem. If our donation makes a difference to how children feel about themselves and what their future holds, we’ll be delighted.”
Juliet Marland, associate headteacher at Chorley St Peter’s CofE Primary School, said: “We are extremely pleased with our beautiful outdoor classroom. JSJ UK completed the work efficiently and professionally, showing much consideration towards our school, and our children were very excited when they used the outdoor classroom for the first time on Outdoor Learning Day.
“There is plenty of room for a class to enjoy learning together, accessing a wider curriculum and developing important life skills. Our outdoor classroom is now used regularly, whatever the weather, and our children are motivated to learn in their new environment. The construction of the classroom is to the highest standard and will provide diverse learning opportunities for our children in many years to come.”