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Opening Spaces


Opening Spaces is a project co-ordinated by IATL with RSA Academy Tipton in which lead learners from the RSA Academy will work in collaboration with practitioners from Warwick to make recommendations for innovative educational use of learning spaces in the RSA Academy's new building.



The main aim is to support lead learners in developing innovative plans for use of the new spaces in the Academy building, through:

  • workshops at Warwick where lead learners can explore the theory and practice of open space learning;
  • informal workshops at Tipton to explore potential uses of the new, flexible spaces;
  • recommendations for innovative educational use of learning spaces in the Academy's new building;
  • a written report and film presentation illustrating findings to staff and students.



The RSA Academy opened in 2008 with a commitment to educational innovation, in particular through the Opening Minds curriculum. In 2010 the Academy entered into a partnership with the University of Warwick and in August 2010 the Reinvention Centre for Undergraduate Research at Warwick embarked on a short research project in collaboration with Lesley James from the Academy to explore issues around the transition from the Opening Minds curriculum at Key Stage 3 to the Key Stage 4 curriculum.

In August 2010, the Reinvention Centre merged with the CAPITAL Centre to create Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning (IATL), which houses considerable expertise in innovation in learning spaces, including the HEA-funded Open Space Learning project. In September 2010, the RSA Academy moved into new-build premises designed to support Opening Minds. In this project, IATL practitioners will collaborate with lead learners from the Academy in exploring innovative uses of the new Academy premises.



Paul Taylor (Co-Director, IATL), in consultation with Lesley James (RSA), will manage a project team from the IATL comprising Oliver Turner (Project Manager), Ruth Morris (Undergraduate Researcher) and Jonathan Heron (Teaching Fellow), supported by Professor Jonothan Neelands (Institute of Education) and Adam Cartwright (Technology Officer, IATL). The programme will have three main components.

1. Open Space Learning Workshops

Groups of 20 lead learners will join the team at Warwick for one-day workshops. Designed by Jonathan Heron and Oliver Turner, the workshops will explore different aspects of the theory and practice of open space learning, while simultaneously exploring some of Warwick's experiments in the design of learning spaces.

2. Informal Workshops (Tipton)

The Warwick team will visit Tipton to experience the new building and work with groups of lead learners in the various interesting and underutilised spaces in the new building. The aim is to support lead learners, inspired by their experiences at Warwick, to conceive new ways of learning in these spaces.

3. Recommendations

The Warwick team are experienced in recording workshops such as these using audio and video technologies. These allow capture of extensive and rich data in a short space of time, with low impact on a busy curriculum at the Academy. The Warwick team will analyse the materials and edit the audio and/or video "reports" to accompany the written report.

Additionally, we will take the opportunity to evaluate how this process of engagement between a secondary and a tertiary education institution is beneficial to those involved.