Lime Tree Primary Academy

Bringing a forest school to the inner city

Lime Tree Primary Academy brings a new way of teaching and learning that blends indoor and outdoor learning in new and exciting ways.

As a ‘forest school’, Lime Tree aims to develop pupil’s self-esteem, self-confidence and independence. The design of the school was driven by a different teaching approach, where learning can take place in all areas of the school, both inside and out, nurturing a better connection and respect for nature. Inherent in this connection is a more direct link to outside teaching areas as well as a façade design that maximises daylight distribution and natural ventilation. Atkins also incorporated a series of features to mimic elements from nature such as columns clad in tree bark and the green and sky blue cladding inspired by leaves in the sunlight.

Teachers and parents at Lime Tree Primary Academy share their story of how their new school building is helping them to ‘take the lid off the classroom’ and transform education.

The buildings and surrounding landscapes create a physical and metaphysical forest.

The building design allows plenty of natural light into the school and break out spaces encourage interaction between students.

In 2017 the Human-Centred Design team carried out a post occupancy evaluation to test how the school’s design has impacted staff and student wellbeing and learning. This is an important part of our holistic design service and helps our design teams bring lessons learnt into future projects.

Direct access from internal classroom spaces to external ‘forest clearings’ gives students the freedom to develop their individual learning style. Providing clear visual connections across all these learning spaces develops a strong sense of community as well as helping the children feel safe and secure. 92% of respondents agreed that the provision of outdoor classroom spaces has benefited learning.

As well as having a direct link with the surrounding external environment, each classroom provides a good level of daylight and natural ventilation, both proven to support physiological and psychological wellbeing as well as performance. Approximately 70% of respondents feel that the quality of light within the classrooms supports learning and 76% are satisfied with the air quality.

Providing a school design that offers children a sense of identity and instils a sense that ‘this is my school’ can have a significant impact on their wellbeing, as well as their performance at school. This is not always easy within budgetary constraints but the design team were keen to offer the staff and students at Lime Tree a school that they could be proud of. 95% feel proud to show people the school.

Over half of the curriculum is delivered outdoors. This visual and physical connection to nature is proven to benefit wellbeing and reduce stress.

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Contact Information

Atkins Human-Centred Design

Atkins | Nova North, 11 Bressenden Place, Westminster, London SW1E 5BY

+44 (0)20 121 2000 |

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