Page 38 - Independent Schools Magazine
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Creating the perfect learning environment:
How timber keeps everyone at just the right temperature
There’s a reason why the school environment is often called ‘the third teacher’. Nothing’s worse for teachers or learners when the classroom’s too hot and stuffy - or, similarly, when it’s a
bit too chilly. Most conducive to learning is an environment that no one notices - because it’s just perfect. In this article, we’ll explore how timber modular buildings are apt to create this optimal environment - and explain why they’re an increasingly popular, evidence-led choice.
Folding doors can help improve air temperature and quality
  Just the perfect temperature...
Inside timber is a cellular structure which contains air pockets. These help to limit the material’s ability to conduct heat – meaning users don’t bake in the summer heat as they might in a brick or concrete alternative. Timber modular buildings are often standalone, and can be fitted with bi-fold, sliding doors which opens the space up to the outdoors. As well as the obvious cooling effect when temperatures are high, this kind of setup is perfect for chasing those outdoor learning objectives.
As well as users staying cool in summer, they also won’t feel the chill in winter – because timber is
also a natural insulator. Timber’s air pockets also mean that heat inside doesn’t dissipate; the result, a more stable temperature and comfortable learning environment. This has financial and environmental benefits – reducing reliance on central heating and fan usage.
Timber keeps everyone
feeling fresh
Make no mistake about the importance of air quality and good temperature. A study on classroom design by Building and Environment found that: “Seven key design parameters have been identified
as best predicting pupils’ progress. These were Light, Temperature, Air Quality, Ownership, Flexibility, Complexity and Colour.1”
Therefore, why not choose a classroom that’s breathable? As
a building material, timber is hygroscopic – meaning it’s able
to improve indoor air quality
by moderating humidity levels. Incidentally, this also makes timber a popular building material for car
garages, that mustn’t get too moist. But this also makes it ideal for avoiding mugginess on those hot, rainy afternoons - allowing teachers and learners to do their thing in optimal comfort.
Indeed, the study ‘The Effects
of Moderately Raised Classroom Temperatures and Classroom Ventilation Rate on the Performance of Schoolwork by Children’ found that pupils performed better on numerical and language test speeds when temperature was reduced slightly and ventilation rates increased. Again, those sliding doors can help here2.
An artificial helping hand...
Due to technological innovations, modern timber frame buildings are also capable of being fitted out with artificial insulation and heating, supporting their fantastic natural thermal performance. In the classroom builds that The Stable Company creates, high-tech insulation is actually contained within the structure in the timber
cavity. This means that the walls of a timber frame building can be much thinner than concrete or stone, whilst achieving the same level of insulation – thereby also saving on vital building space. The minimum insulation specification is 150mm glass wool.
Saving the environment,
as well as money for your
school...
By maintaining a more stable temperature, timber buildings help to save on heating and cooling, thereby nonrenewable energy
use – a long-term financial and environmental plus point. That’s
not to mention that timber is a 100% renewable material, which can open these classrooms up to grant funding and support.
Timber’s thermal performance is second-to-none. Able to be fully draught proofed and central heated, it is rapidly becoming the ultimate construction material for creating perfect, comfortable learning environments.
  A hygroscopic material that improves air quality, timber naturally maintains a more stable temperature
1 Source: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10789669.2007.10390951
2 Source: ‘The impact of classroom design on pupils’ learning’ - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360132315000700
Bursary benefit night
 A special ‘Suffragettes in the City’ event was hosted by Manchester High School for Girls (MHSG) at Harvey Nichols in Manchester. The occasion recognised the School’s close connection with the Pankhurst sisters and 100 years of votes for women, as well as the milestone
of welcoming the 100th Pankhurst bursary girl to MHSG.
Over £21,000 was raised on the night with all proceeds going directly to the Pankhurst Bursary Fund. The School’s Pankhurst Bursary Appeal was launched in
2010 with the goal of raising £2 million to ensure that 100 girls, all with real potential, could benefit from a Manchester High education, regardless of their financial circumstances.
‘Suffragettes in the City’ paid homage to the School’s famous alumnae; Christabel, Sylvia and Adela Pankhurst, and the suffragette movement. Indeed, Manchester High was the School where Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the movement, chose to educate her three pioneering daughters.
Pictured: From left Natasha Oldbury, Charlotte Dobrev, Head Mistress Mrs Claire Hewitt and Mia Serracino-Inglott
 38 Independent Schools Magazine
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