110 Bespoke Teaching Walls installed at Phoenix Collegiate
Phoenix Collegiate, a secondary school in West Bromwich, partnered with Witley Jones to design and manufacture 110 bespoke teaching walls which were installed during term time and the summer holiday period.
Due to the size and scale of the project combined with the deadline of the new school year, we collaborated closely with the team at the school to develop an installation programme to minimise disruption to the school timetable and teaching.
What drove the need for Teaching Walls?
Following the formation of the school in 2010, all classrooms had legacy teaching resources and equipment including whiteboards and screens which had become dated and the school was looking for an innovative and practical solution to roll out across the estate.
Having seen teaching walls in use at other schools, the team understood the versatility and benefits of creating a focal point and freeing up space around the classroom.
“We were impressed with Matt and Witley Jones Furniture from the beginning, especially with such a considerable investment for the school and the scale of the project to install 110 teaching walls in time for the new school year to begin.” commented Michael Smith, Headteacher, Phoenix Collegiate.
“The bespoke teaching walls have transformed the look, feel, and teaching environment in each of our classrooms. Both students and teaching staff now have significantly more space around the classroom, whilst helping our staff to improve the way in which lessons are taught.
“We have a modern teaching solution throughout our school that is fit for the future and provides our students with the best possible classroom experience.”
Following a quick yet rigorous tender process in March 2022, we were awarded the order in early April, enabling Matt Jones to survey each classroom during the Easter holidays and work with the school to establish the style of teaching walls which resulted in two designs.
Bespoke Teaching Wall Design
A standard 4200mm teaching wall was designed for all of the general classrooms as well as a smaller variation for science labs and food tech rooms where they had fixed demonstration benches the teacher needed to be able to work behind.
We then designed two special teaching walls for the two drama studios which were larger and had additional storage for props.
The standard teaching walls featured one tray base unit and 3 double-door cupboard base units with adjustable bookcases at the top to the side of the interactive screen section. The teaching walls were then finished with 2 pairs of sliding whiteboard doors on 2 rails so the teaching wall could be completely closed.
A small number of teaching walls required deeper end panels manufactured with vents in them to allow the air from the radiators behind them to circulate. We also had to cut access panels in the back of some of the base units to allow the school maintenance staff access to the radiator valves. We established the need for these during the survey so we knew which classrooms would need the deeper end panels.
Term time installation
Our team worked closely with the school to develop a programme of classrooms that could be freed from the lesson timetable on days after the May half term, as the older students were preparing for and taking exams.
During the May half term, we started by fitting 15 bespoke teaching walls before devising an intricate programme of accessing 1 – 2 classrooms per day between May half term and summer holidays, fitting 57 teaching walls in total during term time.
“The level of engagement with me and the team from Matt was second to none, the professional project management and flexibility of the installation was very impressive. We found the whole team easy to work with, the fitting team was diligent and tidy when installing the teaching walls, during term time and the summer holidays,” commented Dave Russell, Project Manager Phoenix Collegiate.
We were able to complete the installation of the remaining teaching walls during the first week of the summer holidays to meet the project deadline of the end of July.
The term-time installations were done using a team of 3 fitters who arrived on site at 7am each morning to get the first teaching wall unloaded and carried into the classroom before the students arrived. The components for the second teaching wall were delivered in time for it to be carried in whilst students were in lessons late morning before being fitted during the afternoon.
“Witley Jones understood the complexity of the project, they communicated regularly throughout and were always open to ideas and suggestions. The team immediately picked up any snagging and easily made any design amendments required in a small number of the classrooms owing to the orientation of the spaces, integrating vents where needed,” commented Dave Russell