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What makes a great school? Water Hall

Updated Monday 1st August 2011

The rebuilt Water Hall School in Milton Keynes has found favour with the people who have to use it every day - the pupils. They shared with us how great design was helping their education.

The architects of the scheme to update the old Water Hall School site used space and shape to create a calming, positive atmosphere that allows children to forget the outside world and enjoy focusing on learning. How does it work? The current crop of students in the school shared their views.

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What makes a great school? Water Hall

Gulbahar
My mum and Dad was thinking of taking me to another school but when they found out that they were going to build another school so they said well maybe this school might be better than the old one.

Joe
The old school you could see all the bricks it was all crumbling, there was loads of stairs and some and if you tripped on the stairs you could really hurt yourself, where this one’s got no stairs so that’s really good so you can’t trip up.

Molly
It’s clean and you can actually, it’s a nice place to learn. 

Gulbahar
This school needs to be looked after like something special. 

Kaci
The courtyard you’re not allowed to run around in.

Tariq
It’s very, very beautiful and it inspires you and if you’re like angry and the music’s playing as you’re going through it just calms you down and you got a new start to the day.

Priscilla
I like the calm music because like if you’re calm in this school and it makes you feel a bit more calm.

Zac
All the music when it sometimes goes on, it makes me just like calm if I’m in a bad mood or something.

Joe
Say something’s happened outside of school and like when I look in the courtyard it’s like when I walk through it’s like it takes most of my emotions away and I’m like right, this is a school day, let’s do this.

Molly
Well as I arrive to school I feel like tired and sleepy then like yeah, I walk into the classroom and you know you’re going to have to learn and then they start learning and then you are into it.

Gulbahar
My favourite place is the classroom…

Georgina
…because when I go in there and no-one’s around by people who I know and I get to go and learn new things. 

Child (voice only)
If I go to someone else’s class I can see what they’ve been doing and it’s actually fascinating because there’s lots of stuff.

Brandon
When it goes round, the classrooms all sort of go out of their roof which looks quite creative.

Georgina
Well I like the courtyard because it’s nice and peaceful so when I’m upset I can just go there and relax.

Joe
I like the little circle of stones because it just looks really relaxing in that bit where you sometimes if you’re doing learning you can just sit down on the rocks and do some work.

Child (voice only)
And then when you walk around there’s lots of decorations, there’s like glass where it’s got bright colours on and it can actually catch your eye in a second. 

Gulbahar
The colourful ideas that have been decorated in the courtyard, and it’s not just the grown-up’s ideas it’s like children’s ideas.

Molly
I like, see that circle bit and there’s all hand prints from when people in foundation put their hand in, people in Year 6, so it’s a nice memory.

Kaci
And we have this hand thing where we’ve designed our own hands but I meant, I don’t know what it’s meant to have to try to figure out what’s my hand.

Priscilla
It’s always kind of calm and joyful, and sometimes magical.

Joe
Say the little ones, they’re usually overexcited and everything, and sometimes if you just go in there have a little session like because there’s like these little pictures all over it and it looks really nice in there. 

Child (voice only)
It’s like a relaxing calm place to like do some things, and there’s like a little tree where you can make like a wish.

Molly
You can put the disco ball on, different coloured lights and there’s this thing and it reflects on the wall and it’s like a sea thing, and it calms, that calms you down as well.

Priscilla
It makes, sometimes it makes you feel a bit like dancing.

Georgina
I feel quite happy because I know I’m going to learn new things and I just walk through there and I have a smile on my face. 

Gulbahar
Coming into school I forget about anything that happened outside and new learning and like something, I feel like there’s a new start to my life.  That’s how I feel.

Tariq
It just ups my level and takes me to a new whole level, it just inspires me to come to school even more, I don’t want to leave.

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