Earlier this year, commercial fit out company, JBH Refurbishments, committed to inspiring the next generation of architects, interior designers and construction workers. They teamed up with voice of the sector – FIS (Finishes Interior Sector) – to launch a regional competition in primary schools in the South East to ‘Design the Best Classroom Ever’.
The competition provided an educational opportunity for children to put their creative and methodical skills to the test. As a result, teachers across the South East got involved, using the competition as an art lesson, a computer lesson and even setting it as homework.
Consequently, JBH Refurbishments was inundated with entries from primary schools across the South East, but only two winners could take the £250 prize money.
Florence Mannell, age 11 of Staplehurst School won the key stage 2 category and Penny Bates, age 7 of Thames View School in Gillingham won the key stage 1 category. Both were personally congratulated by the JBH team and presented with their prize.
Director of JBH Refurbishments, Babs Hubbard said, “We initiated the competition to get youngsters enthusiastic about construction and design. The construction industry is currently experiencing a distinct lack of skilled trades and we wanted to do our bit to encourage the next generation to consider careers as architects, interior designers and construction workers.
“We were really encouraged by the high level of entries from such young people. The creativity and attention to detail was overwhelming in fact – far better than we had anticipated, which made the judging process extremely difficult. “However, Florence and Penny were our deserving winners and we think they have made some great choices on how to spend the prize money.”
Florence of 6C class at Staplehurst embraced her passion for reading. Her design featured a secret library, books that come to life, a giant calculator and a range of tech to aid learning.
“This design demonstrated Florence’s ability to think outside the box to develop an entirely new and contemporary classroom concept,” explains Hubbard.
When asked how she came up with the design, Florence said, “I was watching a programme that had a small door in a tree and when you went through it, you entered a large library with books that came to life. I love reading and this magical library gave me the inspiration for my classroom design.
“My sister, Matilda who is 7 came up with the idea for the giant calculator. I asked her if I could use it and she said, “yeah sure”. I really enjoyed thinking about how I would want my classroom to look and it took me two days to plan and draw it.”
Florence leaves primary school this year for High Weald Academy but has used the prize money to leave her legacy at Staplehurst School. The £250 has been spent on her favourite books for her fellow students, which will feature a ‘Florence Recommends’ stamp and will be available in a special section of the school library.
Penny Bate’s, who is in year 2 at Thames View School in Gillingham designed a Monopoly board inspired classroom, which impressed the judges for its originality.
“Penny’s design was truly unique and offered an alternative approach to the school day structure,” says Hubbard.
Using the iconic Monopoly board design, the square desks were arranged to create the shape of the game. Each table acts as a place on the board and provides a different task, such as reading, baking, art and fun maths. In the middle of the tables is a giant die that pupils roll to determine which activity they do next.
When asked about her design, Penny said, “I love playing Monopoly, it is one of my favourite board games and I really liked the idea of bringing the game to life in a classroom.”
With such a love for board games, Penny and her teacher, Mrs Bradshaw intend to spend the money on a selection board games and some dressing-up for Penny’s year 3 class, ready for when they return in September.
Helping the Directors from JBH Refurbishments with the judging process was Iain McIlwee, CEO of FIS (Finishes Interior Sector), who said, “We have been really encouraged by the high-level of entries for both categories and hope that the competition has sparked a passion in these young people for building and creating. It was extremely hard to narrow down two winners. However, Penny and Florence are very deserving winners.
“We hope that all the entrants will now be inspired to enjoy building and possibly enter the #iBuiltThis2019 competition run by FIS, which is open to all ages and there are some amazing prizes to be won. The winners will be invited to the #iBuiltThis Awards ceremony taking place on the 8 October at UK Construction Week Expo at the NEC in Birmingham, where they will be awarded their prizes by TV personality and renowned architect, George Clarke. We’re delighted that JBH will be an #iBuiltThis Ambassador to the competition.”
Babs Hubbard concludes, “We have thoroughly enjoyed receiving the designs and seeing what is important to children when it comes to their classroom environment.
“We strongly believe is important to construction industry that we generate an interest in design and building among young people, hence our latest involvement in the iBuiltThis initiative.
“The industry needs to attract creative and methodical individuals with an exceptional work ethic. If a small contractor like JBH Refurbishments can do one small thing to inspire the next generation then we can all get involved,” concludes Hubbard.