Slab 1 have been poured and the structural steel has been bolted in place this week so we have our building growing above the ground. Soon we will really see the building starting to form.
I thought this week I would briefly reflect on the work that has been done in preparation for the new build. While it was publicly announced in December 2015 that Kelburn was to receive an $8.5 million new school, the process of reshaping the school started well before that. The engagement of Nigel and the team from DesignGroup, and their significant design experience, and the Board/staff team visiting schools in Christchurch, Auckland and Australia identified new design techniques and new shapes for learning. At the same time the teaching team were constructing methods of teaching for the new spaces, and these were shared with the community at public meetings in 2015 and 2016.
In October 2015 the senior management team wrote a paper that summarised in a page their 18 month exploration on new learning spaces. Whilst offering a slightly different model of teaching and learning, it still recommended the concept of the Home Learning Group which will operate in 2018 and beyond. Children will still have a teacher to go to guide them in their learning, but they will work with other teachers and other children as part of their learning experience through the days. In addition to this the senior leadership team identified the following recommendation to the design phase…
December 2015 –
“Over the past 18 months, teachers have been inquiring into more collaborative learning arrangements with our students and in schools around the country, and in Australia. We have found that our students need a significant adult that they know is their teacher, and that they like a space that they can call their own. KNS action research has shown that because of their collaborative learning, children strongly associate with their class group: this includes their teacher. Teachers value the social diversity and interactions that these classes bring. Our school also has a differentiated curriculum design in order to make learning processes open-ended and to cater for the diversity of student learning, learning styles and interests.
Our improvised and creative approach to learning means that each class needs to have a space where social, oral and arts learning can take place at anytime – learning in the moment. We have found that groups of students having individual learning spaces with the option of working collaboratively in a collective centralised space is key to each team within the school. Creating spaces where students, staff and parents can meet, collaborate, share and innovate is a key concept design that the KNS staff and board want to replicate across the school.
We have been exploring the concept of moving from single cell to more connected learning spaces. In our travels throughout New Zealand and Australia, the key messages gained were that spaces need to be:
- Creative – they inspire students to want to learn so the space must send positive messages to the students and teachers that work within them.
- Flexible – that they can be re-purposed as per teachers/students requirements – spaces that are agile and personalised allowing for fundamental class groupings.
- Age appropriate – purpose built for the age of students that will be learning in them.
- Connected- to the outdoor environment and throughout the building to ensure visual connections.
- Adaptable – enable a variety of learning activities to take place in the same space.
- Be acoustically sound so that dialogue and multiple literacies with students can take place in a variety of settings.
- Accessible – Enable ease of access for all its users.
- Enhances the un-used, or weather dependent spaces to that they can be utilised.
- Provide like for like in ensuring design features that work are retained.
- Aesthetics- pleasing to the senses and aligned with children’s creative activities.
This input saw the addition of the breakout spaces in the design of the new buildings so there are numerous places for children to work at whatever they are studying, as well as the larger learning studios. A key factor of the teacher contribution was our commitment to creativity … which is a key aspect of our pedagogy and our school vision – ‘Where students learn creatively and strive for excellence preparing for lifelong learning … Kia auaha te ako a ngā ākonga me te whai i te iti kahurangi mō te akoranga tūroa.’
In support of these parameters, A really useful 20 minutes clip (and quite humorous) which is 10 years old now is Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk on creativity and the arts. It connects the messages above with the new spaces. It does give reference to the diversity of children and why different ways of doing things for our children’s differences is the way to go.
Some key agreements includes