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Further Education: The Need for Flexibility

Never has the topic of Flexibility been more widely discussed than in recent months. The Covid pandemic and need adapt to changes in strategy brought about by this have resulted in a reassessment of what ‘flexible learning environments’ mean in an FE context.


Historically, this was based on the need to create spaces that could respond quickly and easily to changes in curriculum. Today, this issue is perhaps more focused on the need adapt to changes in teaching and learning, with a particular emphasis on the virtual environment.

Looking ahead it is hard to determine exactly what the impact of the pandemic and the notion of ‘remote learning’ will have on the physical shape of Colleges, however, it will without doubt, leave it’s mark. In this context, the concept of flexibility will need to marry a more ‘fluid’ means of teaching and learning with an equally responsive building environment.

Students looking forward to a return to campus-based learning post pandemic, will as always, look to rekindle friendships and embrace the culture of academia. However, the manner and setting in which they do this will be heavily influenced by the impact of the IT/virtual revolution, now part of their everyday lives.

Whether it be in terms of moveable walls, break-out spaces, independent learning zones, café bars, fab-labs, IT hubs or virtual learning zones, the College environment will become ‘the Hub’ or focal point of student’s lives. The ‘barriers’ between academic and social activities are likely to become more blurred, with students wishing to embrace a semi-virtual culture. One born out of the pandemic, in which the buzz and benefits of being at College respect and respond to the need for a truly flexible fun/work environment.

At Ellis Williams our vast experience of working in the FE sector coupled with our expertise in place making, positions us as the forefront of this revolution. One in which we can ensure Colleges of the future become more than simple institutions of teaching and learning and become catalysts of change, at the heart of communities, able to flex and adapt to a whole range of activities through careful design, intelligent FF+E and interchangeable environments.


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