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Technology trends – mood lighting in schools

Andrew Brister 17 May 2011

The power of entertainment lighting to create atmosphere and influence mood has long been recognised in theatre and live events. Now schools are discovering how lighting can be used in the same way but in a completely different environment – and turning to entertainment lighting specialist White Light to help them achieve this.

At the Roe Green Junior School in Brent, staff decided to incorporate theatrical-style lighting to let them quickly change the decoration of their new library and childrens’ lounge to match different stories. A particular challenge was that the school is committed to sustainability as part of the Groundwork London One World Schools programme; the library was part of a building newly refurbished, using sustainable materials, with even the curtains sourced from Fairtrade-certified suppliers. The lighting clearly had to play its part in the school’s eco-friendly plans.

The school contacted White Light for advice – because the husband of one of the teachers had worked with the company 25 years ago at White Light’s old Fulham base. White Light’s Matt Stridgen then worked with the school to provide suitable equipment – ultimately supplying an Opti Solar 250 projector with various effects wheels and eight Selecon Aureol Beamshaper 75W spotlights: “about the lowest-energy gobo projectors you can find,” says Stridgen. White Light also supplied a wide selection of gobos and effects discs, Stridgen recalling that the school’s head-teacher was “a bit like a kid in a sweetshop when we showed her the catalogues and she got to pick the gobos.”

The result is a new space loved by children and teachers alike. “They change the gobos regularly, to themes like space, or jungles, or water, to suit the story they are reading, and the children seem to really enjoy it,” Stridgen explains. “It’s a simple system – no dimmers, just turns on – but incredibly effective.”

“The lighting opportunities have provided a backdrop for the interactive curriculum that takes place in ‘The Lounge’ in our sustainable building,” comments Melissa Loosemore, headteacher at Roe Green Junior School. “Only discussion and debate, drama and dreaming take place in this world created by the special effects, designed by White Light.”

Photography by James McKenzie

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