Gratnells is a family business that has manufactured school storage systems for nearly 50 years. While taking great pride in the design and quality of the products, I am nonetheless very conscious that the most important role we play is in helping to create the environment in which our children learn.
School is a significant developmental stepping stone in a child’s life. It is here they are equipped to face the world. Our contribution to this crucial time in our children’s lives means that we have a responsibility to understand the significance of the physical space in which they learn.
We’re not the first to recognise how important the physical place of learning is to a child’s development, well-being, safety and sense of belonging. The inspirational work of the team behind ‘The Third Teacher’ is well documented and The Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) ‘Future Schools’ published in 2015 makes fascinating reading. Gratnells products are already a key component within the classroom, but we want to help shape the places where our children are being educated. We want to create the best possible learning environments.
To do this, we are working with a wide range of partners to develop new ideas in the application of class design, digital technologies, in the performing arts, in outdoor learning, in all the places where teachers teach and children learn. We have been working with Dr. Katherine Forsey, one of the UK’s leading outdoor education experts for the past five years and we have also enlisted the views of Professor Peter Barrett, whose academic work clearly recognises the impact of the classroom design on learning.
We know that the learning environment has to meet the needs of all children, whatever their interests, skills and abilities. We know that we have to take into account the immense diversity of children that are in our schools and colleges.
It is generally acknowledged that we need change to the current system; anyone lucky enough to have heard Sir Ken Robinson speak will have been inspired by his passionate belief that the existing educational systems stifle creativity.
Gratnells created the Learning Rooms project in 2012 to recognise and celebrate the benefits and advantages of different learning environments. We are working with teachers at every level because we know that they, more than anyone, know what is needed to create the ideal learning environment. Dr. Harriet Sturdy, a head teacher, who has overseen and been involved with the development, implementation and running of various schools in Cambridge is a valued contributor to this work.
Additionally, as we are an international business, we can collaborate and work with educators in 68 countries around the world.
Gratnells is privileged to be part of a sector which has an opportunity to shape the future. We’re looking forward to it.
Gratnells Managing Director & Chairman
Chairman of the British Educational Furniture Manufacturers’ Group (2012-2016)