Monday, March 30, 2009

Coolest School Portable Ever

I have taught in some pretty ratty portables even ones equipted enough to have toilets. There were always freezing and the toilets had a bad habit of overflowing at the least opportune times. This, however, is the coolest one I have ever seen and would be awesome to teach in if only to make the cockpit my office. And the kids would have to call me 'Captain' if they wanted some help. Ms Neusbalm, my aide, would have to wear one of those stewardess outfits from the sixies. And I want my own Captain's hat.

As an education tool, an 82ft-long commercial airliner is a sure bet to take teaching to new heights. The Short 360 is to be used as the UK's first aircraft-based classroom for primary school pupils. Youngsters at Kingsland Primary School in Stoke-on-Trent cheered and waved with excitement as the decommissioned plane was delivered on the back of a lorry yesterday. They will use it as a creative learning space for geography lessons and imagine they have flown to the locations they are studying. The craft was decommissioned after racking up thousands of hours flying businessmen on routes to Ireland and Spain. It was bought for less than £20,000 - half the £40,000 cost of a mobile classroom. Head teacher David Lawrence said the plane will be fitted with its wings and kitted out with whiteboards, desks and laptops to make it a 'user-friendly learning space' for a class of 30 pupils.
Mr Lawrence said: 'We wanted an outside classroom and talked to the children about the kind of space they wanted and they came up with the idea of a plane themselves, so we thought we would see how we could go about buying one.' But teachers watched in horror as the decommissioned plane hit unexpected problems as it approached its final destination. First it ploughed into the side of a terraced house, scraping the brickwork and thumping a satellite dish. Then, after two hours of manouevring through a tight gateway, it smashed into a lamppost on the school driveway. Youngsters were left gasping in amazement with pupil Connor Myatt, 11, exclaiming: 'This is really funny, I can't believe what I have just seen.' Referring to the crash landing, Mr Lawrence said: 'I didn't plan for this but things don't always go as you expect them to. Once it is finally in place it will be great for the kids.' The school teamed up with Creative Partnerships, a government learning programme, to dream up the fantasy classroom, which has really taken off with staff and pupils. The airliner was sourced from Retro Aviation, a supplier of vintage aircraft equipment that has provided plane gear for hit Channel 4 show Lost.
Rachel Billington from Creative Partnerships said: 'We were trying to find ways we could make the school a more creative place for pupils to learn and teachers to teach. 'One of the pupils came up with the idea and we've managed to make it a reality. It's going to be here for years, and it shows the kids that if they have big aspirations they can make them happen.' But the immediate aspirations for homeowner Paula Brannigan, 40, are the repairs she will be having on her house after the collision. She returned from a shopping trip just in time to witness the plane crash into the side of her house. She said: 'I was absolutely flabbergasted. The grinding noise as the plane hit was terrible. Fortunately my children weren't home - but my cat was and he was definitely startled by the whole thing.'There is some damage to the bedroom window and the plaster work but the school have already said they will pay for the damage.'

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