The University of Birmingham’s Training School (UTS) is national first, a school that is helping the Russell Group university to develop and deliver a ground-breaking approach to teaching. A recent Government white paper pointed to a changing landscape for the future of teacher training; one where training occurs primarily within schools rather than universities. The proposed model focuses on having trainee teachers working closely alongside experienced practitioners to hone their skills during their studies and to provide an additional resource for the students.
The UTS is our response to an appointment from the University to deliver a transformational training school on their Selly Oak campus. We collaborated closely the School of Education to develop a design that responded to the requirements of the 1,150 pupils, 400 sixth formers, trainees and staff members. Our experience in delivering numerous projects for the University allowed us to ensure that every detail of the design was sensitive to the campus environment.
The external envelope of the building utilises a restrained palette of buff brick with dark infills and grey aluminium. Eye catching translucent Rodeca panels mask the fire escape stairs. A landscaped public space leads to a glazed facade and main entrance. The building’s grounds include an all-weather MUGA outdoor pitch, overlooked by the second-floor library.
Teaching spaces are split across two academic wings that link with the central core of the building, which houses specialist teaching facilities, such as labourites, art and music rooms, all arranged around an impressive triple height forum space. The forum, bathed in daylight from its roof lights, is the heart of the UTC, and where dining facilities and social learning spaces are located. Individual year base clusters, complete with teaching areas, toilets and meeting rooms help to foster a sense of identity and pastoral care for each year group.
The building possesses a state of the art ICT infrastructure, including a site-wide wireless network suitable for supporting digital learning methods. Our design has delivered a building that upholds the University’s commitment to both academic and personal success. It raises the aspirations of pupils and is helping to create a new generation of teachers who will be well equipped to deal with the changing world of education.