Transforming post-16 study

Sixth form centre at Barnard Castle School gets a makeover

Students are benefitting from a new dedicated sixth form centre that is transforming the learning experience at Barnard Castle School, the culmination of four years of planning, which is now being enjoyed for the first time by sixth formers.

Upper and lower sixth form students have their own work and social space in a purpose-built centre that blends traditional and contemporary features. In holiday time, the centre will also provide Barnard Castle with a state of the art conference venue for the first time.

Head of sixth form, Chris Butler, explained: “The aim was to develop further the sixth form as an institution with the very best facilities.

“I wanted it to be an emotive, airy space, where people would draw a breath as soon as they walked through the door.”

Visitors are greeted with a central point mezzanine that reflects the shape of the school shield, a design mirrored in the cut of the carpet.

The centre has been planned to transform quickly from formal study area to comfortable social space featuring tables for dining and booth seating for socialising. Clever use of acoustic materials allows for individual and collaborative study and multiple activities in the same open-plan space.

Wall-mounted flat monitors feature news and current affairs programmes and there is a large screen for projected lecture material.

Barnard Castle sixth formers show off the new centre

Emphasis has also been placed on the technological needs of modern students, with WiFi, PCs, USB charging sockets, electronic room booking tablets and intelligent lockers with thumbprint scanners and charging points for a range of devices.

The centre is also home to the director of studies and careers staff, giving students easy access to a host of invaluable advice and a venue for visiting speakers from industry, professions and higher education, as well as sessions on the psychology of behaviour, stress management and current affairs.

Developed in what used to be an old playground, the sixth form centre also provides a new school entrance for all students, with a glass spur exclusively for sixth formers, making the facility aspirational for younger pupils.

Mr Butler said: “The centre enhances the student experience greatly and provides lower school pupils with a tantalising glimpse of what sixth form life is like.”

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