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Sunday, 6 January, 2002, 08:01 GMT
Container classrooms
classrooms made from containers
Containing the problem of over-crowded schools
Pupils at a college in east London will return to lessons this term in new classrooms made from shipping containers.

Nine containers which used to ship goods around the South China Sea have been converted and stacked on top of one another to make six classrooms at Tower Hamlets College.

Another container has been turned on its end to make a stairwell.

Head teacher of the further education college Eddie Playfair is pleased with the new accommodation, which he said cost just a third of the price of formal classrooms.

interior of classroom made of container
The inside of the containers is refitted
"We know from experience that students respond well to a pleasant learning environment," he said.

"It's so different from the grotty old portable classrooms we are all familiar with in school playgrounds."

Many schools have portable classrooms as a semi-permanent solution to their problems of over-crowding.

The company which designed the classrooms sayys they are very durable and safe.

Eric Reynolds, the director of Urban Space Management said: "They are massively strong and were designed to carry all kinds of cargo.

"A standard shipping container is designed to carry 40 tonnes and is capable of being stacked up to 15 high, so there is no problem."

The company has also converted the containers into studio space for artists.

The BBC's Geraint Vincent
" It took less than two months to get the classrooms ready for use"
See also:

19 Dec 01 | Education
Cash boost for 'crumbling' schools
11 Apr 00 | Education
Cash to bulldoze old classrooms
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