Jump start to better connections in Kelburn

Issue: Volume 97, Number 6

Posted: 5 April 2018
Reference #: 1H9iDd

A Wellington inner-city school is about to embrace 21st century
learning spaces while retaining precious pieces of its past.

Manaakitanga is at the heart of big changes underway at Kelburn Normal School in central Wellington.

The school is being rebuilt and all of its classroom buildings are being replaced with a large new modern teaching block with 13 teaching spaces. The school is currently split in two, with the two junior school classrooms on one side of a road and the remainder of the school on the other side. 

The upgrade by the Ministry of Education promises a jump start into the 21st century for the ageing primary, which is a collection of buildings of different ages and styles spread out across a ridge on a tight inner-city site.

Principal Andrew Bird has been at Kelburn for a year now and has the job of seeing the rebuild through to completion. He pays tribute to the teaching and management team and the Board of Trustees who have worked hard over the last few years in partnership with the design team and the Ministry.

“A lot of time and thinking has gone into this project for the Kelburn community,” he says.

“One of our values is manaakitanga and it’s at the heart of how we will shape the way the school will work together in the new environment, with a focus on supporting individual students’ strengths and needs, and continual conversations about applying the values we live by.

“Kelburn is a community of learners but we are teaching the students about life too. They will be supported to manage and drive their own learning and their own outcomes.

“As we work on our learning tasks, we will be working together. We will encourage kindness, caring for other students, treating people with respect, and nurturing relationships, which are all part of manaakitanga. As a school learning community, teachers and children have moved from cooperation to collaboration to co-learning.

“It’s about developing relationships and supporting ngā tamariki in building a secure base from which they are empowered to engage in independent learning and exploration.”

In its 2017 report, the Education Review Office (ERO) noted the school’s achievements: “High achievement outcomes for students have been maintained over time and during a recent period of several changes of principal and senior leadership. There is a strong focus on teaching and learning through the performing arts and an ongoing focus on improving teaching practice through research and inquiry.”

The new school is designed around making connections, and the key is taking down the walls that divide classrooms, and opening everything up. Instead of self-contained classrooms, the new teaching spaces will be flexible, and there’ll be better coordination of administration and operational facilities.

“It will allow connecting-up, physically and in other ways, that wasn’t possible before. The design allows for larger groups or small groups.. There will be less furniture – and that will help us move to greater student agency,” Andrew says. “Currently, we are a series of sealed-off rooms that all look pretty much the same.

“It will be a modern learning environment. We’ll have new ways of learning, with flexible spaces for learning and working together – which is where our children are going and how the workforce operates now. 

“So the learning style here will be a good preparation for the students’ future working lives, as the workforce is increasingly collaborative, and the capacity for lifelong independent learning and adaptability will be essential skills.

“The school will be a metaphor for life, in a sense,” he says.

But even though transformation is ahead, some things will remain the same.

Kelburn is fortunate in that, even though it is a central city school with limited spaces for play and sport, it has its own small piece of bush where the children play.

“It’s a touch of the wild, an adventure space,” Andrew says, “and that is going to stay, as it allows the children contact with nature, which is enriching.”

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 10:36 am, 5 April 2018

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts