“A learning environment is not just about property. It’s about the social, pedagogical, and physical elements in the whole school aligning and aiming for positive educational outcomes.”
– Ministry of Education –
A new environment for learning
Alongside changing teaching methodologies, our learning environments are also changing. There is a move toward more collaborative and open spaces, where students and teachers can traverse topics and activities within interconnected spaces. The teacher no longer owns a specific class and kids gain independence on how they learn, with an emphasis on self-management. These innovative learning environments are increasingly sought as schools reach a stage where refurbishments become necessary.
More open environments encourage collaboration, as different teaching groups interact, ideas are shared. Teaching colleagues work together in teams to help the students learn and this collaboration helps to drive their professional development.
As part of the new classroom block development for Riverhead Primary School, Pacific Environments worked in collaboration with staff and students to develop an Innovative Learning Environment.
The teaching space is spread over two levels with interconnecting tiered-learning areas and multiple breakout spaces. In addition, a new administration area with staff facilities on the second-floor doubles as an extension of learning space, where students can use the kitchen as part of their learning curriculum.
The ‘learning stair’ shown in the image above links two open plan learning spaces. The stair doubles as a mini auditorium, where students can gather, connect, and share work. Playful reading alcoves were incorporated into the space under the stair and a circular breakout space (a result of student input) was introduced in one of the learning areas.
Multi-functional spaces work well in areas where foot traffic is intermittent. During the Northern Health School refurbishment, a wide corridor doubles as a library with reading nooks and seating recessed into the wall, as shown in the image below.
Providing spaces where staff can relax and socialise outside of class contact hours is an integral part of the school campus. Our recent refurbishment of the staff room at Huapai District School was inspired by the Principal’s wish for a ‘café style’ staff room for his team. The use of wood and soft colour palette combined with the lighting transformed the mood, creating a place staff could enjoy.
The team at Pacific Environments continue to work with schools to help realise learning environments that facilitate the best outcomes for our students and communities. We enjoy the challenge of this ever-evolving landscape, working alongside passionate and dedicated teaching staff, who add insight and value to every project.