Room 13

Site: UK Lab 2 – Greenfield Arts, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham

The centre has undergone a major transformation to include two new creative spaces that provide a social area for independent learning by students and the wider community, as well as helping with Sugata’s on-going research.

Designed to be very different to a normal classroom, Room 13 has an ‘outdoor feel’ – including artificial grass – and unusual seating and decoration to make it an attractive and social space to spend time in.

It is run by a group of students called The Engine Heads, who are responsible for driving things forward in the SOLE and helping to share knowledge about how Room 13 can be used to experience a new way of learning.

Katy Milne, Director of Arts and Creativity at Greenfield, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to continue this global research and development into enquiry-based approaches to learning here at Greenfield Arts. It’s a chance to learn above and beyond the curriculum, helping to ignite a curiosity for learning, and that’s what makes it really exciting.”

Greenfield Arts works together with Greenfield Community College and students there have been part of Sugata’s research for several years.

The Greenfield Arts lab opened in February 2014.

Read the Room 13 blog

George Stephenson High School

Site: UK Lab 1 – George Stephenson High School, North Tyneside, Tyne and Wear

The world’s first School in the Cloud opened its doors at George Stephenson High School.

Students designed the interior of this one-room learning lab – which has colourful beanbags scattered throughout and fluffy clouds painted on the walls.

This lab is run by a group of students called The Committee, who manage a schedule to let different classes and groups use the lab in time slots before, during and after school. They also meet regularly to develop a Big Question curriculum to assist teachers across all subjects to deliver SOLE sessions.

Amy-Leigh Hope, Head of Design and Art at George Stephenson High School, was inspired by Sugata’s approach following a talk about his work by their headteacher. After discovering that his self-organised learning methods had not really been tried in secondary schools before, she set about testing them with Year 7 with help and support Sugata, finally extending this up to Year 13.

“The idea of thinking about your subject in ‘big questions’ and letting children take ownership of the lesson really gets them engaged,” she says. “When they work in groups of four there’s less chance to opt out and they naturally self correct each other, helping to develop not only their literacy and understanding but also good social skills.”

The SOLE, which opened in November 2013, is also available for the local community and nearby primary schools to use.

Read the TED blog about the opening.

Jane Yates

Organisation: Armathwaite Community Primary School

I stumbled across the concept of a SOLE at Greenfields Community School in County Durham while I was running a Philosophy for Children(P4C) course for local teachers.  Curious by the ‘School in the Cloud’ design of the classroom, where the training was held, I immediately googled everything I could on my return home that evening. As someone with a strong belief in the potential for questions to be at the heart of learning, I was hooked. Since then, I have been trying out the use of SOLE in my own classroom with Year 5 and 6 children. Continue reading

Sophie Lewis

Organisation: Greenfield Arts

I have been the Arts and Community Centre Coordinator for Greenfield Arts for one year now and in that time I have seen a vast selection of SOLE sessions, some I have overseen, others I have led myself. SOLE and enquiry-based learning were a huge part of my interest in the work of Greenfield Arts, as I believe it is vital to developing the way we learn. This is something I am very passionate about.

Greenfield Arts is host to one of the seven original School in the Cloud Labs. Continue reading

Sarah Leonard

Sarah is an experienced teacher who has been successfully using the SOLE approach across the 7-11 age range. Sarah has taught in a variety of settings from inner city London to a town primary school. Sarah is also a Peer Support Teacher, supporting teachers across parts of North Yorkshire to enhance their teaching, and regularly demonstrates lessons and offers support and guidance.

Sarah believes that each child is entitled to a rich, creative, fun and innovative education and SOLE ticks all these boxes and more. Sarah believes that the SOLE approach enables children to work together to learn and make incredible connections. The children in her class are the greatest advocates who look forward to each SOLE learning session. Sarah loves to teach at the front of the class, but equally loves to sit back in awe during a SOLE session and see, feel and hear the incredible learning. The children in her class learn using a variety of techniques but SOLE has enhanced her classroom in every way possible. “Let’s SOLE it!” is a daily sentence in her room.

Sugata Mitra

Sugata Mitra is Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University.

His “Hole in the Wall” experiments, begun in 1999, revealed that groups of children can learn almost anything by themselves given Internet access and the ability to work collaboratively. He developed this original idea into the SOLE [the Self Organised Learning Environment] approach, reaching out to children with minimal or no educational opportunities, in remote corners of the globe.

He has driven research into making this approach part of mainstream education. At TED2013, Sugata Mitra made a bold TED Prize wish: to revolutionize the future of learning. The School in the Cloud is making this possible with self-organised learning and Sugata’s methodologies at its heart.

Whilst Sugata has home bases in Newcastle, UK and West Bengal, India, his ideas are having an impact world-wide.