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New Build Focus Group

Building for our Community - December 2013

The New Build Focus Group met in the last formal session held by School Creative, focusing on three areas of the New Build project.  The following summary highlights some of the key points discussed.

Map Nav

The New Build Focus Group spent time reviewing the concepts for navigating the building which included the using design of maps linking core colours used in the building on skirting and door frames, furniture and blocks on the wall. 

The ‘tube map’ concept had been agreed at a previous meeting as being familiar to both the Academy community, and for visiting members of the local community.  The group were presented with a concept that can be used digitally, as well as in the format of a booklet or tri-fold leaflet for ease of use.  The design will also be able to be amended by the Academy, allowing us to adapt to different events and functions.

The Academy will continue to use a numbering system for rooms rather than using names for rooms, as it was considered best to ‘Keep it Simple’.

Glazing Over

School Creative produced a series of concept drawings designed to illustrate the possibilities available for the design of the glazed wall in the Learning Resource Centre which will be the entrance to the Academy. 

Combining frosting and solid colour, suggestions included a map of the world showing how Felixstowe is connected world-wide in the areas of industry, culture, politics, economics and finance as well as social living.  Another suggestion was to include images of local industry such as the Port and BT to support this. 

The concept template has been sent out to staff and student groups for feedback.

Engaging with the Community

Mr Ozanne presented a short update on the groups of people, from within the Academy community and from our local community, to have visited the New Build site and their reaction so far.  It was also explained that students would be visiting the site towards the end of March.

It was highlighted that Primary Heads of schools in Felixstowe were to visit the New Build, as well as Parent Governors from local Primary Schools to see the development first hand.  Great feedback was received with visitors impressed with the space, the layout and the state-of-the-art features for our students.  It was recognised that the new building has enormous potential.

Business Users are also being invited to visit; many are parents themselves, or potential parents of students who will attend Felixstowe Academy.  Our community is all connected and it is hoped that those people who have already had an opportunity to look around will spread the word that Felixstowe Academy’s new building will be a great place for community events, and that the 440 seater theatre has huge potential for entertainment in the town, no longer provide by the recently closed Spa Pavilion.



The meeting then broke into groups to discuss what areas in the community how could be encouraged to engage with Felixstowe Academy as a focal point and an asset in Felixstowe.  Members of the Focus Group were urged to talk to people in the community about the new building – to use passion and purpose to convince others to be interested; to engage with everyone they meet to keep them up to date with progress, both before and after the new build is opened.

School Creative will shortly write up and publish a complete A3 document of the process of the journey from initial consultation and ideas to the handover today of the results of those discussions.

School Creative then thanked the focus group, saying it had been a pleasure to work with them and they had enjoyed the creative ideas that had come out of the meetings.  They had been glad to help the school community move the Academy forward.

New Build Focus Group - February 2013

On Monday 25 February the New Build Focus Group, consisting of students, staff and governors, met with the architects (Jestico), the builders (Balfour Beattie) and with School Creative to explore ideas about what will go on inside the new FXA Building.

Three ‘concepts’ were presented to the group by the team from School Creative who facilitated the session.  The ‘concepts’ were intentionally under-designed so that the discussion groups can provide creative input, honest feedback and focused decision-making.

These concepts and their key themes were as follows…

1) Rivers

  • Location of Felixstowe – between 2 rivers and close to a third.
  • A river is a device for moving through a space . . .
  • Subtle reference to legacy school names – the Felixstowe community remembers the former names and will identify.
  • This is our culture and heritage
  • Geography and geology of a river  (source, meandering to estuary) and the pace can be illustrated.
  • River can be defined by what goes on on its banks.
  • River shape on walls – wider near estuary (entrance hall/atrium)  River points the way outwards
  • Relevant displays – different rivers and different colours for different subjects.
  • Ideas can evolve – what will work and what won’t?


  • Need for arrows reduced
  • Design has to be durable (eg can’t have designs on the floor) and reasonably priced (large graphics are expensive to repair if damaged).
  • Subject specific designs?
  • Name each floor after a river
  • Creates positive atmosphere – airy
  • Much better than the current map
  • Wayfinding as an educational tool
  • Displays need not necessarily be paper-based – projection?
  • Subtle Orwell/Deben references liked by some of the group
  • If students have input, they are more likely to respect the building

2) Connectivity

  • How is Felixstowe connected to the outside world?  Geographically?  Digitally?
  • Port of Felixstowe has 90 services per week worldwide in 30 shipping lanes – Gateway to the world
  • Link Felixstowe to cities around the world : Rotterdam/Singapore/Hong Kong/Tangier/Limasol/Beirut
  • Each Department represented by a destination?  Rooms named after world cities?
  • How can we connect with the wider world?
  • Encourage students to leave the academy with an understanding of other cultures and other ethnicities
  • Use containers to create outside space – incorporate them and their history into social space


  • Incorporate languages and countries of origin of some FXA students and staff
  • Need to focus on places in the UK as well as overseas
  • Channels of river = transportation of ideas.
  • Have links at the mouth of the river as wayfinding tools
  • Liked use of containers outside – bike sheds?
  • Train line maps on the walls instead of locks on a river, stopping at different areas of the building
  • FXA = hub of the community and part of the global community
  • Multicultural aspect good
  • Many students’ aspirations currently do not reach beyond Felixstowe (working at port, following family) – encourage people to look further afield.
  • 3-D mapping of cable network on the sea bed
  • Projections on the outside of corridors
  • Too Geography based?
  • Designs could relate to people who have excelled in the relevant subject
  • Names on rooms would give no clue as to where the rooms were.  Need numbers as well
  • Great opportunity for students to take control.

3) Discovery

  • Feel proud to do well in subjects you enjoy
  • Focus on great discoveries and achievements
  • Bring colour and design into the corridors
  • Opportunity to create something BIG on feature walls.
  • Designs will be subject-focused
  • Dynamic aspirations focusing on the present rather than the future or the past.


  • Where do YOU fit in within the school?
  • What do you like?  What would give you a sense of belonging?
  • Discover what school is about and what shapes you
  • Incorporate the international aspect from Connectivity
  • You can get anywhere in the world within 24 hours
  • Aspire to be the best you can be
  • Look forward!
  • Displays can be educational tools but modern heroes can lead to debate and disagreement.
  • Using images of current stars (eg Mo Farah) might be quite irrelevant in 5 years time
  • Or inappropriate (Jimmy Savile)
  • Super graphics near entrance hall (or central point)
  • TV screens (with rolling images and information displays) elsewhere
  • Inspirational and aspirational figures to encourage students to think BIG about their future
  • Facts and figures used need to be identified and suitable for all age groups.

The main group were then split into smaller 'break out' groups and asked to discuss the positives and negatives to each concept.  After a period of time the smaller teams presented their feedback to the whole group.

In Conclusion

The team from School Creative then asked the whole group to reflect upon their discussion Everyone was then given a post-it note and asked;

  1. What do you want us to do next?
  2. What do you like?
  3. What do you want us to change?

The whole group were then asked to place their thoughts and comments to the ‘concept’ sheets, with all comments being taken back by School Creative to analyse and consider for the next session.

New Build Focus Group - February 2013

On Monday 11 February, a meeting of students, staff and governors met with the architects (Jestico), the builders (Balfour Beatty) and with ‘School Creative’ to discuss the next stage of the development of the new Felixstowe Academy building.

Points of interest raised were :

  • Placing of student lockers outside the building (under a canopy)
  • Provision of individual toilet cubicles, with wash basin and hand drier, for both staff and students
  • Provision of a dining area which would also be a working and a social space, with round tables seating up to 8 people, and which would evolve as it became clear what was needed
  • Provision of a medical area with sufficient space for its needs
  • A designated music block with recording facilities - extra soundproofing will be added as necessary
  • A ‘superlab’ in the science department as well as standard laboratories
  • Many classrooms will have white walls which can be written on by students
  • Colour:
    • Brighter colours in circulation areas than in classrooms
    • Different colours would indicate different areas of the academy and different floors
    • Public areas of a calm, natural colour would be a blank canvas for displays, projections, inspiring words, etc.
  • Scope for development will be built in, eg provision in future for students using motorised wheelchairs
  • There will be thermostats in each class room to regulate heat and ventilation
  • A biomass boiler will provide a sustainable heating system
  • Comfort cooling in ICT suites, rather than orthodox air-con system
  • Intelligent and energy efficient lighting
  • Fewer electric sockets required as we move towards iPads for all students.  iPad charging racks will be included
  • Four changing blocks provided in the sports hall, including disabled amenities
  • Additional storage provided beside the current Sports Hall at Maidstone Campus
  • Laundry room provided
  • Activity/dance studio with mirrors
  • A light well in the centre of the building above the dining area will provide daylight and artificial lighting through the upper two floors
  • Wayfinding – environmental graphics on the walls will aid direction-finding.  Colours and shapes will add character
  • The access road to the school will be lined with trees and landscaping and resemble parkland
  • There will be two main routes into the academy: through the main access road and through a footpath from the existing pedestrian entrance.
  • Secure fencing will surround the building for student safety.

‘School Creative’ undertook to prepare a document on the development of the ideas raised and discussed and bring them back to the next meeting on Monday 25 February.  Meanwhile, members of the Focus Group were asked to take the design decisions to the wider community and spread the positive message that this is an inspirational project which we can all be part of and be proud that we can influence the look, feel and atmosphere of OUR new Academy.