The school grounds have been designed for specific curriculum uses; each interior curriculum centre has an associated garden/outdoor space. In most cases the gardens are directly accessible from the classroom areas.
A variety of seating has been provided within the gardens; some in shade created by the school building and others in sunshine, creating spaces that will be usable throughout the year. The building itself provides shelter from the prevailing wind, however no shelter has been provided from the rain.
The school grounds, including the school square, have been used for a variety of lessons including geography, art, maths and science. Students report that they have enjoyed these lessons and like being given the freedom to use the school grounds as part of their learning.
However, the circular seating within the courtyards is close to the indoor teaching areas and subsequently there have been problems with disruption when using these to teach outside. The seating areas at the end of the classrooms wings are more suitable and have been more successfully used by teachers for outdoor lessons
The pond and wildlife area created alongside the main playing fields have yet to be fully established and there are not yet any associated facilities, such as decking or benches, in this area to facilitate lessons. Due to the young nature of the planting the curriculum gardens currently feel very open. It is envisaged, however, that this will change once the trees and planting have established and the character of the courtyards evolve over time.
There are good sports facilities, above the Department for Children, Schools and Families recommendations, including grass pitches (with good drainage) as well as an astroturf pitch and a multi-use games area. These facilities are regularly used by the local community.
The security issues presented by the integration of high levels of public access and school activities are well addressed by the design. Access to the school campus and youth provision buildings are via single entrance points both overlooked by reception areas.
The school building itself provides a secure, yet approachable, front boundary to the public square, creating a welcoming impression to the local community. Security fencing is provided at the sides and rear of the site, with a secondary security perimeter that enables the car park, coach drop off area and entrance courtyard adjacent to the youth service building to be secured from the remainder of the school campus.
Everest Community College is planning how best to capitalize on the facilities and resources that have been provided for them. An eco-schools group has been set up for the pupils, and there are plans for a wind turbine, vegetable garden and green house. This serves to illustrate the aspirations and excitement that the school community has for developing and making the most of their school grounds, with both staff and students working hard to recognize the potential of their school.
Overall, the school campus presents a secure, yet welcoming, environment that has considered both the student’s curriculum and social needs in the design of the outdoor space, while also creating good provisions for the local community. Landscape detailing is of high quality, and the design is robust and easy to maintain.