Studios, lofts and quiet rooms: Swedish school rethinks learning spaces for better cooperation

Many schools across Europe are finding innovative ways to make the most of their learning spaces. Skapaskolan in Sweden is one such school rethinking its design to create collaborative and unique spaces for its students.

Fredrik Plahn, School Head, Skapaskolan:

Good morning and welcome to Skapaskolan, south of Stockholm in Huddinge, around 20 km from the centre of Stockholm. We are a school with grades one till ten, around 485 students today and fifty-three people in the staff.

We’ve chosen to have a different kind of classroom than traditionally used in Sweden. We’ve chosen to have larger classrooms, or as we call them, studios, around twice the size of a normal classroom. And to be able to do that, we have larger groups, around fifty students in every group, and the reason for that is that we want to have two teachers in the classroom at all times.

Linnea Bay, Teacher, Skapaskolan:

So, in a grade here at Skapaskolan we are about fifty-four children, and during the day we mainly divide them into two groups, but we also can divide them into smaller groups or we can be all together, all fifty-four children. And that’s mainly when we do morning assembly, story time, show and tell or other gatherings. And most of the time we then gather here.

When we do split them into two groups, me and my colleague mainly split them into studio A and studio B, and then we have an introduction, or we show a movie or something like that. And then when the children start working together, they kind of blend together, so some of them can be sitting and doing math, some of them can be doing a science experiment or reading or something. And then they can be anywhere in the room, so they could be up in the loft or they could be in a quiet room or just in front of the screen.

How do we keep inside voices? How can we have everybody in one room doing different things? That is something you really need to work on with the children, but it can be a challenge. As well as with the cooperative learning strategies that we do a lot, we need to teach the children how to cooperate. For some children it comes naturally, for other children it is really a struggle.

Fredrik Plahn:

The reason we have done that is that we want active students, we want to have variation in our teaching, we want the children to cooperate, we want to create safe places for the students where they can work individually, and we want the teachers to keep learning by working with someone else, all the time during the day.

Linnea Bay:

And if they do have papers and pens, for example, we have creative solutions with a ztool or we have clipboards, or they come up with other solutions.

Fredrik Plahn:

I think that anyone can do this, no matter how your classroom looks today. I think the most important thing is that before you start to do any change, be sure of what you want to achieve, or have some idea anyway, and then start.