'Cosy, Safe' Lofts loved by children

Dale Community Primary School in Derby have two Lofts. One has become the centrepiece of the Schools refurbished library, the other is part of the Foundation Stage 1 classroom. Headteacher Linda Sullivan recalls how opening the post one morning introduced her to a new concept in learning. “We were in the midst of planning a major refurbishment of our elderly library when a Classroom Lofts brochure landed on my desk. I could immediately see their potential to bring life to both the library and the classroom.

The Warren

We had a site visit which was useful and helped us towards The Warren for our Foundation Stage 1 class and a purpose designed Loft for the library with shelves and a stage area. We corresponded mainly via email and arranged installation dates which didn’t interfere with lessons. They went up in no time at all and they are incredibly solid and well built. It was love at first sight not only for the children whose faces lit up with smiles but also their teachers who suddenly found their available floor space effectively doubled”.

Mrs Sullivan believes the Lofts tie in well with current thinking on enhancing learning with creative use of space. She says, “I have been interested in the ideas of Elizabeth Jarman into what she describes as ‘communication friendly spaces’. There is no doubt that our children respond positively to their time in and around the Lofts because they are safe and cosy as well as fun. As they like to be there they tend to also concentrate better on the activities they are undertaking, whether reading, writing or ‘doing’ things. In the library, for example, you can often see children making their way upstairs in the Loft to settle down and read a book whether paper or on the Kindle. The children respect the area as ‘special’ and are cosy, relaxed and receptive to learning. And of course they are a haven for creative ideas and role play. We’ve seen our Lofts transformed into ships and castles and they link in readily to our topics of the moment. Sometimes children will be playing in their ‘house’ downstairs and reading or doing jigsaws upstairs”.

Word has spread and Mrs Sullivan has had requests from other local schools to see the Lofts first hand. She says, “I think the Lofts will enhance any learning environment, particularly Foundation Stage 1 but I can’t see why older children in Stage 2 wouldn’t also enjoy them and the learning benefits they provide”.