Witley Jones complete 3 Science Laboratory Projects in Summer 2018

We are delighted to have successfully completed three unique Science Laboratory furniture projects at Pipers Corner School, Lichfield Cathedral School and Derby High School.

Each of one these installations required bespoke designs in order to meet their individual requirements to create engaging learning environments and maximise the teaching space available.

 

Pipers Corner School

Pipers Corner School in Buckinghamshire opened their Octagonal Science Laboratory, situated in the South Wing courtyard, at the beginning of the academic year.

The board of Governors wanted a statement building to fit in with the school being recognised as a leader in STEM subjects. After exploring a number of ideas with their architect, the school settled on an octagonal shape building.

“We visited a number of schools where Witley Jones had completed projects to see their finished work first-hand. It was important for us to get a feel of how schools work with Witley Jones, especially the provision and process of the contract.” commented Bob Pearce, Bursar, Pipers Corner School.

“There is attention to detail and then there is Witley Jones’ attention to detail.”

“I had positive engagement from Matt Jones right from the outset of the project through to the fit out of the furniture.

“Detailed drawings and explanations were provided at meetings with the main contractors, other parties and ourselves to keep everyone up-to-date with the progress.”

Bob went onto to say how he was “struck” by how it seemed to be that Pipers Corner School were our only priority and the only project we were working on.

“I felt that being a family business, the whole team care about the quality of service and product they provide and are invested in each project.”

Matt Jones, Director, Witley Jones Furniture, went on to say,“This is the first time we have been asked to fit out a science laboratory in an Octagonal room which created a challenge in itself. With good planning alongside the school, architect and contractor, we overcame all problems and are very proud of the results. Thank you to Bob Pearce and Pipers Corner School for allowing us to be a part of this exciting project.”

 

Lichfield Cathedral School

 Lichfield Cathedral School is a coeducational independent day school in Staffordshire who are undergoing a period of expansion which led them to require an additional science laboratory.

Our team received the enquiry for the science laboratory furniture two weeks before the start of the Summer holiday, with the view to complete the project for the beginning of the new academic school year.

Dave Manser visited the school the following day to meet with David Brown, Bursar, and his colleagues to discuss their requirements.

Before starting the project, the school had looked through our portfolio of laboratory refurbishments and had spoken with our customers at Oswestry School and Bromsgrove School.

We needed to be innovative when it came to using the space available due to the make-up of the estate being within the historic Cathedral Close.

The room itself was very narrow so we manufactured tables to accommodate the width of the room. We needed to accommodate 24 pupils and give the teacher a large demonstration area and desk.

We used Trespa worktops throughout, which we recommend as standard in our laboratory installations due to their durability. Also, the school required 2 sinks with lockable storage underneath, as well as open storage units, double door cupboards and trays.

As is standard practice with our science laboratory furniture, we used lab-specific hardware including the taps, Vulcathene waste kits and bottle traps. Each sink, again as standard, is made from epoxy resin which withstands most chemicals.

We were able to manufacture and install the laboratory furniture within the summer holiday period. As with all laboratory installations, coordination with other trades and the customer is key to ensure services are in the correct position and the programme of works run smoothly

“The execution of the project was excellent, it was a positive experience without any fuss. Witley Jones have done a fantastic job given the tight timescale and specification.

There have only been positive comments from teachers and students using the room.” commented David Brown, Bursar, Lichfield Cathedral School.

 

Derby High School

During the summer months, we completed a biology laboratory project at Derby High School as part of an ongoing refurbishment programme following on from a physics laboratory we completed for them in 2016.

The project consisted of changing the layout of the furniture, moving the utilities and changing the dynamic of the teaching space.

They now teach the longer wall which helped to create the space to put up walls for the new office space.

We worked with the school to design and manufacture furniture for a dedicated office for teaching staff and lab technicians.

“The new lab design has really changed the experience of teaching biology. The room is designed perfectly for our needs, suiting theory and practical lessons equally well, and feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive!” commented Head of Science, Derby High School.

The fixed student benches were favoured from photos the school had seen of a similar project at Priors Field School which we completed in 2016 and 2017.

The cupboards beneath the desks allow for storage of apparatus on one side of the benching with seating space the other side facing the teaching wall.

All benches incorporated gas and electrics so that the majority of experiments could be carried out at the desks. Trespa worktops were used throughout for the student and perimeter benches.

The biology team were keen to have space to display experiments and work so we therefore designed and manufactured glass fronted display cabinets.

“Witley Jones were accommodating throughout the project, we gave them various different ideas which they took on board.

The people installing the lab over the summer were very pleasant and it all went pretty much to schedule.  Witley Jones have also been very responsive to any issues we have had and the follow up to the job has been good.” commented Senior Lab Technician.

We also designed a bag storage unit for students to put their belongings in during lessons, so they are not a trip hazard around the laboratory.

Witley Direct Sponsor Boxing Day Tractor Run 2018

Witley Direct were delighted to sponsor the 2018 Boxing Day Tractor Run in Bewdley, in aid of local charities which raised over £2000.

Witley Direct, a sub-division of Witley Jones Furniture, design, manufacture and install bespoke furniture for the home, including home office, fitted bedroom and storage furniture.

After hearing of the Tractor Run, Wiltey Direct decided to sponsor this great event, which was a huge success.

In aid of the Kidderminster and Worcestershire Prostate Awareness Group and Rory the Robot, the turn out on the day was amazing and it was great to see support from local people, the participants and their friends and family.

The Kidderminster and Worcestershire Prostate Awareness Group is a registered charity, raising awareness and promoting the importance of the PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test.

Rory the Robot is an appeal that was launched by the Worcestershire Acute Hospital NHS Charitable Fund in 2014, to raise money towards the cost of a state of the art robotic surgical system, which will be primarily used to treat patients with prostate cancer across Worcestershire. In the county, there are between 125-150 radical prostate cancer operations carried out each year.

Prostate cancer claims the life of one man every hour, so every donation to these amazing charities really does help to save lives and truly make a difference.

Witley Direct were over the moon to be able to sponsor the Tractor Run, in aid of such amazing local charities and it was great to see the Witley Direct banners on the route along the river in Bewdley and on the lead Tractor.

Nicky Langford, Fundraising Officer at Rory the Robot Appeal, made the following comments about the day: “There was a great turn out of people and the event was a huge success!  The total collected with entry fees and bucket collections was £2287.74 – which is amazing! We’d like to say a massive thank to you Witley Direct for sponsoring the Tractor Run”.

Simon Downes, Managing Director, Witley Jones Furniture, commented, “The importance of mens health is a topic that we are fully aware of at Witley Direct. We were proud to support such a great event that raises awareness of prostrate cancer as well as vital funds for the charities involved. We are looking forward to building our relationship with Rory the Robot Appeal during 2019.”

Importance of Colour in Learning Environments

In the past the main focus for classroom furniture was functionality, but now colours and design are considered of equal importance for schools when they are looking at their facilities and specifying furniture.

We have worked with schools and educational establishments of all sizes, from both the state and independent sector: a common trend we have seen in recent years is the increased use of colour.

So with this in mind, what colours do you currently have within your classrooms, and have you considered the effect these colours could be having on your students?

How colours can affect learning and mood

It is important that when choosing the colours for your classrooms and teaching spaces, that you consider this impact to ensure you are creating a space that is effective and that your students will enjoy being in that environment.

Warm colours

Reds, oranges and yellows are vibrant, happy and lively colours, but they should be limited when used within a learning environment as they can be overstimulating.

For example, red is a very vibrant and intense colour which can become overwhelming, so this colour should mainly be used as an accent within the classroom.

On the other hand, the colour yellow is associated with happiness and creativity, making it the ideal colour to use within art rooms or student social rooms.

 

Cool colours

Blues, purples and greens are all colours that promote a calm and relaxed atmosphere, making these colours ideal for environments where concentration is key and the focus is more on completing challenging tasks.

 

White

White is a great colour for schools that are limited on space, as this colour reflects light which helps to make a room feel bigger.

One advantage of white is that you can have furniture manufactured with magnetic whiteboard frontages so that the surfaces can be written on with drywipe pens and used to mount display materials with magnets.

 

How to incorporate colour within your classroom

One way that you can incorporate colour within your school and classrooms is through your furniture.

The most common request we receive in terms of colour is from schools looking to match their furniture to their school colours or department / subject colours.

Furniture and colours can also be used to separate a room for different activities, for example to create a reading area, a play corner and a learning area all within the same room.

At Witley Jones, we are delighted to offer bespoke services, meaning that we can design and manufacture any piece of furniture in any colour that you wish.

Jim Turner: Inspiration behind Kings Hawford Library Bus

Jim Turner, Head Teacher at Kings Hawford School in Worcester, talks to us about the inspiration behind this Summer’s innovative project – converting a double decker bus into a school library.

Shortage of space is a common problem across school estates and at Kings Hawford we are no different.

We were looking to create a dedicated library space within the school for the students to use and learn to read.

As we lacked space in the main school building, we began to explore ideas to construct something in the outdoor space. The school could easily have gone for a wooden building which could have been erected in the grounds but we really wanted an exciting and engaging facility that the children wanted to be in when learning to read.

I had come across schools in London that had converted double decker buses and read an article online that documented how a school had converted one into a library.

My ambition from the start was to create something that made a statement and stood out – I thought that a double decker bus would certainly make that statement!

The school didn’t want a typical library that didn’t have personality or wasn’t inviting.

What better way to do it than converting a double decker?

After looking into the idea in a little more detail to assess if it was affordable and practical there was on only one option for our library.

How will the School use the Library Bus?

The Library Bus is a space for all students and year groups to use. For the younger children the most important thing is that it is a place to sit and be read to. A great space to take part in an adventure, a journey.

Older children are able to go in there independently, pick up a book, sit on the front seat of the top deck and look out. This is something I used to do when I was young –  only the bus was moving.

Converting a Bus into a Library

Matt Jones worked closely with us to shape the project and the team at Witley Jones grasped the idea and concept immediately.

It was essential that the design needed to be in-keeping with the bus and it still identified as something you would see on the streets of the capital. We didn’t just want to put shelves in and call it a Library Bus.

The attention to detail and ability to create the desired environment has really made the project a success. Even down to taking the colours of the seating into account when designing the shelving and storage, creating a warm and distinct feel to the bus.

The bespoke design of the furniture and installation was a seamless process. Having worked with them previously we knew that they were a professional local company with a great reputation.

Technology, the learning environment and getting ready for the jobs of tomorrow

Antony Gatley, Regional Sales Manager – Education, KI Europe shares insight into how technology is changing the learning environment 

Why do we go to school? We spend our formative years in education environments preparing for our futures, acquiring skills and knowledge for later in life. Social skills to help us interact with each other, technical skills and knowledge to help us live and gain employment.

But in a world being transformed by advances in automation and artificial intelligence (AI), what skills and knowledge will children of today need for jobs in the future? Many jobs of tomorrow don’t even exist yet – so the often asked, and otherwise innocent question suddenly sounds a lot more daunting: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

As the industrial era continues to make way for the information age, rote learning, uniform assessment requirements and examinations are no longer fit for purpose and must be replaced with innovative new teaching methods.

To best prepare children for the new knowledge-based jobs landscape, education must evolve and transform the learning experience in order to nurture the skills that will be required in future employment: entrepreneurship in an age of ‘freelancing’; critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills; aptitude with creative problem-solving; attention to detail.

The proliferation of connected devices untethers us from our desks, whether at home, work, school or university. Suddenly, we are free to read, research, interact, write, edit and record, whatever we want, wherever we want.

So much of the learning process can now be done remotely and independently. Individual work can be conducted more readily in a setting that each individual prefers – be it the library, the park, a breakout area or their bedroom at home.

So, what does this mean for the shared learning environment at our schools, colleges and universities?

Group learning in particular must be catered for in the classrooms of the future. The traditional classroom can become the best forum for guided discussions, peer-to-peer learning, and mentoring – activities that are best conducted face-to-face, in an environment well-equipped to support it.

By talking, reasoning, sharing ideas, collaborating on group projects, accomplishing tasks, students will improve learning outcomes. Being able to adapt the learning process and environment to their personal needs will help them become more engaged, energised and focused.

 

How flexible seating can help:

Furniture and equipment can help to facilitate flexible interactions, allowing people to move around freely and direct their attention to wherever it is required. Clear sight lines and access to materials is also important, especially when students and teachers are no longer static throughout a lesson.

Choosing the right seating is an important consideration when adopting innovative pedagogies. Adaptable, flexible seating should be easy to move around so a space can be reconfigured easily – allowing constant transformation to create the right setting for the task at hand.

When moving from group to individual work, chairs on castors can further enhance the adaptability of a space. Stackable seating allows a space to be cleared for entirely different activities.

And of course, don’t forget the importance of good ergonomics. If you’re uncomfortable, you aren’t paying full attention. Movement within a chair can help relieve tension and discomfort and improve alertness as a result.

What’s more, having some flexibility can allow everyone to adjust to find the right view of their peers, their teacher and other teaching aids located around the room.

Teaching Walls are a staple of the modernisation programme at Hollymount School

Emma Pritchard, Headteacher at Hollymount School in Worcester, spoke to us about the benefits of teaching walls in her classrooms and why they are now part of the modernisation programme.

Teaching walls are now an integral part of our modernisation programme for classrooms as they provide a multitude of benefits for both our teachers and pupils.

We first came across Teaching Walls during a visit to another school; we immediately saw for ourselves the impact they had on the classroom. Most importantly we could see how the innovative walls addressed the very challenges we were experiencing at Hollymount.

We recently had two bespoke teaching walls fitted; the first was fitted in a new classroom that is being created for the new school year, and the second went into a refurbished classroom.”

This was on the back of a positive past experience of other teaching walls Witley Jones supplied around the school.

The walls allow our teachers to combine a traditional whiteboard alongside an interactive whiteboard allowing them to seamlessly deliver lessons using a number of pieces of equipment. This creates a more interactive and engaging environment for our students.

It is essential that classrooms have a focal point to help engage with pupils; teaching walls provide this solution whilst housing equipment and being modern in design.

In keeping with this modern approach, the additional storage created by the teaching walls allows us more room within the classroom itself. Clutter is removed and everything has its place behind cupboard doors, on shelves and in the tray units. Exercise books and other teaching resources are contained and can be concealed behind the sliding whiteboard doors to further enhance the appearance of the room.

The fact that Witley Jones are able to provide the solution to supplying and installing the interactive white board under the same installation programme certainly makes life easier for us as a school. The integration of AV and the furniture itself was seamless and we are delighted with the finished article.

Witley Jones donate lockers to Cotswold RDA

Earlier this month, we were delighted to donate much needed storage to the Cotswold Riding for the Disabled Association.

The riding school, based at Cheltenham Racecourse, had recently refurbished their kitchen and toilet area and were in need of lockers for their volunteers to safely store their belongings.

Dave Manser, our Business Development Manager, saw first-hand the incredible work that the volunteers do at Cotswold RDA during his visit to the riding school.

“It was clear to see the positive affect their enthusiasm and dedication impacts the lives of people who use the facility.

“It was only a small gesture to donate the lockers, but I am sure they will be put to good use.”

Cotswold RDA helps both adults and children with physical, mental and learning difficulties. As well as benefits in riders’ physical abilities and horsemanship the charity has a proven track record in encouraging the ability to communicate, build relationships and engage with education.

The charity has to raise £130k per year to cover the running costs and grant funding can be hard to come by.

We were more than happy to design, manufacture and install the lockers for the volunteers. As we saw for ourselves, without the vital help of the volunteers the riding school wouldn’t be able to function.

Claire Jenkins, General Manager, Cotswold RDA, said “Storage is always a big issue for us – there is never enough and these lockers really do look beautiful.

There is now a storage solution for our volunteers’ belongings whilst they are here giving us their valuable time and energy. Everyone here sends their heartfelt thanks for this wonderful gesture from Witley Jones.”

From Design to Installation – Bespoke School Furniture

Witley Jones has proudly designed, manufactured and installed school furniture for over 20 years; we understand the unique demands within the education environment and across school estates.

We thought that by sharing an insight into our manufacturing process, from design to installation, it would demonstrate the high level of care we take and why school’s choose us?

Here is an insight into the journey that involves…

Design

After initial contact, we always try to come and meet our customers wherever possible. We feel that by seeing you in person and visiting your school, we can gain a much greater understanding of the environment and people we are working with and how you imagine it looking; from here we build a design brief.

We undertake a survey to allow our drawing office to provide 2D and 3D visuals, establishing finishes, layouts and numbers. If we are working with a building contractor, we request floor plans which allow us to begin drawing. The drawings can be amended as projects develop to ensure the end user has the best experience.

Once the detail is established we begin pricing and, together with the drawings, the quotation forms the initial proposal for your consideration. Quite often we give different room layout options or different levels of delivery and/or installation to allow you to choose the package that best suits you.

Manufacturing

Our orders are ‘optimised’ and paperwork is written to ensure a smooth transition from computer screen through to dispatch. The specification is translated into Project Checklists, which are issued to the factory for our assembly team to begin the building process.

Edging banding in the machine shop

Starting in the machine shop and finishing in our brand new assembly factory, this process takes in CNC machinery, edge banding, sanding and spray shops, assembly benches, wrapping and labelling. Whether it be a naturally veneered finish using formaldehyde free lacquer or a melamine faced finish using our robust cam and dowel hardware, the same level of care is afforded to each item of furniture.

Assembly shop

Our multi-skilled and flexible workforce work to ensure your furniture is exactly how you imagined. Our drawing and manufacturing software works in tandem to ensure a smooth transition from our drawing office to your doorstep.

Installation

You may or may not have the resources to carry in and install your furniture yourselves. We have highly skilled installation teams who travel the country fitting furniture. Whether it be a driver only kerbside delivery of mattresses, or a brand new building contractor-occupied boarding house, we can tailor the delivery and installation to suit you.

All of our fitters have enhanced DBS certificates and we are CHAS and ConstructionLine accredited. Our fitting teams hold CSCS cards too, allowing us to work on live building sites and under the time constraints that many of these projects can involve. Witley Jones are well versed in this and pride ourselves on the level and quality of service we offer all of our customers.

Our fitters leave rooms clean and ready for use and will always seek your approval and sign-off before leaving. They then complete one final check to ensure everything is in perfect working condition before leaving you to enjoy your new furniture.

Witley Jones complete 3 Music Department Projects

We have recently completed three unique music department projects for The Hall School, Greshams and Bromsgrove School. The schools all required bespoke furniture to address a range of issues including safe storage, shortage of space and the functionality of their music departments.

 

The Hall School

The Hall School is an independent day school for boys in Belsize Park, North London with a vibrant and thriving music department which plays an essential part of the curriculum for the boys.

The school required furniture that complimented the music school and allowed the teachers and students to get the most out of their lessons. These requirements resulted in us working with the school to design an instrument storage wall, cello racks and bespoke keyboard desks.

We were firstly asked to design a bespoke storage wall with alcoves to suit each musical instrument. This involved counting and measuring all the instruments as part of the survey in order for us to design a wall that did not waste space and houses all of the different instruments.

This solution allowed students to safely store instruments and maximised the teaching space available.

Cello storage racks were designed so that the school could offer the students somewhere to safely store their cellos without them being left in corridors and other places where they were in the way and prone to getting damaged. The racks were on wheels to they could be wheeled out of the way for other activities such as drama and other lessons.

We also fitted out the music classroom with desking with integrated keyboard trays similar to those that we have created for Kings School Worcester and Solihull School.

 

Greshams

An independent coeducational school catering for pupils from Pre-Prep and Nursery through to Sixth Form in Norfolk, Greshams is in the top 30 International Baccalaureate schools in England.

Music is a vital part of life at Greshams and All-Steinway Schools demonstrate a commitment to excellence by providing students and faculties with the best equipment possible for the study of music.

We were delighted to work with the school to furnish the newly built Britten Building which was the culmination of £6.5 million five-year project to improve the provision of music.

During the project, we designed and manufactured furniture for the 10 Peri rooms, 5 classrooms, the café and the private dining room. We also created furniture for store rooms and a number of offices within the Britten Building.

We designed several specialist music storage units to house all instruments securely and safely, as well as tables and chairs for the classrooms.

We also supplied office furniture for the several offices, secure noticeboards, a solid Oak bench seat and a private dining table. The table was designed in sections to seat 20 with sections being movable so that the school could easily rearrange this dining set up for less formal occasions.

 

Bromsgrove School

Routh Hall is the new home of music at the school which is used by the Prep and Senior school providing the ideal environment for the school’s musicians.

Our team worked closely with Robothams Architects to develop the design of the furniture for the classrooms, peri rooms and music store rooms for the part refurbished and part new build building.

A mixture of furniture was provided including tables, chairs, pin boards, bespoke keyboard desks, music instrument storage and fitted office furniture.

We were also asked to design and install 7 acoustic panels in the auditorium where students perform, which were mounted on the wall and across the back of the stage.

Epsom College Classroom Furniture and Teaching Wall Testimonial

During the summer of 2017 we supplied bespoke furniture for the latest phase of the refurbishment of the boarding and day houses at Epsom College which began in 2012.


“NVB have thoroughly enjoyed working with Witley Jones who are a very adaptable and friendly organisation.

The development of the furniture design was a truly innovative process and the engagement of the client was considered throughout each stage of the design process.

They met our specific requirements for each of the three areas particularly the level of detail involved with the intricacies in each of the bedrooms…

NVB have worked with Witley Jones on a number of projects and would recommend them to any school for the design and supply of their furniture.”
Bill Button, NVB Architects.

“Witley Jones provide an excellent design service and this is supported by a flexible approach to installation.”

I would definitely recommend Witley Jones to a colleague. Given the majority of work is carried out over the summer, and inevitably there are unforeseen issues that cause delays to the construction phase of the refurbishment, Witley Jones are proactive in working around these challenges, thereby ensuring that all furniture is in place by the start of term.”
Sarah Teasdale, Bursar at Epsom College.