The creative use and defence of space: appropriation through the environment
The Coombes County Infant and Nursery School at Arborfield in Berkshire has acquired international recognition for the imaginative development of its school grounds, including a prestigious Jerwood Award in 1990. Coombes opened in 1971 on a small, flat, barren site seeded with rye grass and edged with chain-link boundaries, and depleted through the ravages of builders. Every year since then the school, under the guidance of Susan Humphries, has worked to develop the grounds into an area of beauty in its own right and a rich resource for learning and development. The teachers contrast their emphasis on process and creative reasoning with the objective approach of the National Curriculum requiring single correct answers. With it, they are dynamic, creative, critical communities aiming to give their charges independence, life chances and justice. As ever, these things have to be fought for and struggled over.