3 min read
17 May 2022

SGP’s Better Buildings toolkit faces its toughest audience – primary school pupils

Better Buildings

Stephen George + Partners (SGP) is delighted to report that its Better Buildings toolkit has now gone live in a school in the Midlands.

The team behind Better Buildings at SGP have been working with staff and pupils at Tardebigge CE First school, a primary school in a rural location outside Bromsgrove, whose teaching philosophy is to ensure their pupils are “motivated and engaged with their learning.”

Explains Simon Matthews from SGP: “We were introduced to the school via their head teacher and worked with Kelly Horton, their Year 4 teacher, on a 4-week programme of 1.5 hours per session. Kelly led all the sessions and used the Better Buildings website to first introduce the children to traditional and alternative building materials before letting them loose to design their own low carbon building.”

“Part of my building is underground to help keep it warm.”

Kelly chose an actual site in school grounds but beyond saying that, the building had to house 30 children and two teachers, she left the purpose, design and materials entirely to the pupils to decide. They created various buildings including storage facilities, a library, gym, and science class.

Continues Kelly: “From a Design & Technology standpoint it’s been really lovely to see the children designing and evaluating their buildings.”

“I have enjoyed learning about the materials. I didn’t know that glulam existed, or that you could have a living roof. And from the time it was introduced, I really liked the idea of a living roof because birds can make their nests on it.”

Kelly created her own teaching plan which tied into elements of the national curriculum, such as science, design & technology and history. SGP was then able to add the plans onto the Better Buildings website, for other teachers to use.

Explains Simon: “Using the Better Buildings website in a real classroom setting allowed us to improve the design in practical terms, such as making the website text bigger so it’s more readable when projected onto a classroom screen. We’ve also added links to lesson plans on the website and introduced exercise sheets, with blank elements like the carbon indicator to encourage children to engage directly, as well as noting down interesting ideas from the discussions.”

“I enjoyed Better Buildings and working out how much CO2 there is in the building I’ve designed.”

The programme is teacher led and interactive, with the website shown on classroom screen, navigated by the teacher. The whole website and the related resources are very visual, and making the introduction to the whole subject into a short, animated video made a strong initial impression on the children.

Explains Simon: “Children are hugely creative and take us down the most unexpected roads. Some were surprised you could use earth as a building material, and wanted us to explain why it didn’t fall down. When we were talking about using concrete in foundations, one child challenged us to find more sustainable alternatives. We’re working on that.”

Concludes Kelly: “SGP’s Better Buildings programme has given the children real life aspirations and insight into possible future careers as well as developing pupils’ cultural capital at an early age.”

We have thoroughly enjoyed working with the school and the children and look forward to developing the Better Buildings programme further. For more information visit our Better Buildings website or email

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