New build supports existing values

Issue: Volume 98, Number 1

Posted: 25 January 2019
Reference #: 1H9qeA

By considering school values and principles during each stage of its rebuild, Woodend School in Christchurch is making sure students and teachers are able to realise the full potential of each collaborative learning opportunity.

The new building at Woodend School is providing more collaborative learning opportunities for students.

When planning the redesign of their buildings, it was important for Woodend School to enable students and staff to explore how to use collaborative learning spaces in a way that best suited their school.

Principal Adrienne Simpson says teachers and students were able to experience this type of environment before the build by using the library block and an old senior block as a temporary flexible learning space.

“That gave them the chance to trial things in a more open environment and work out the sorts of things that they felt would work and maybe the things that didn’t work and the sorts of things that they might need into the new space,” she says.

Teachers are able to provide one-to-one support to students in breakout rooms.

The preparation ensured the school easily adapted to the changes and the new spaces enabled teachers to work together to support each other. The school also refined some processes to reflect the variety of ways the new learning spaces are being used.

Teachers make use of shared online documents so everyone has access to the same information and can work as a team. They are able to easily combine students from different classes for different activities, based on their individual needs. Students also have the opportunity to work with different teachers.

Music instead of bell

Class and break times are now announced with music, which changes on a regular basis.

“The children will have input into what they might like, so we’ve gone from classical to rock. It changes about once a month,” Adrienne says.

“Music is just a bit more interesting, a bit more user-friendly, and there’s all sorts of things that you can tie into it, so some of the leaders can maybe have some input into it. We’re still developing how we do that, but you can run competitions and the winning class gets to choose the music for the next month or that type of thing.”

The extensive work undertaken in the design stages of the redevelopment ensured the school’s vision was translated into the new spaces.

Students and teachers trialled open environments before the build to ensure it was fit for purpose.

Intelligent behaviours

The new build helps students and staff to live the school’s principles and values daily by reminding students and staff of these as they move through the school. The four values, also referred to as intelligent behaviours, inspire students to be self-managers, team players, creators and logical thinkers, and are reflected in the room colours of the new building.

“Students talk about the values that are within those principles all the time and it’s a real focal point of a lot of the school culture,” Adrienne says.

“We had a couple of student focus groups just recently and one of the things that they said very strongly was that they really liked the new environment.

The new build helps students to live the school’s values daily by reminding them to be team players.

“They feel that it enhances their learning because they’re working with others. They feel that it supports those people who need support with their learning and they feel it extends those people who need extension in their learning.”

Students are able to use ICT devices for research and extension studies and teachers are able to work individually or with groups of students in smaller break-out rooms. These rooms include mounted screens for teachers and students to share work on.

Positive parent responses

While some parents initially had reservations, most became positive towards the new build through consultation and understanding how the new system would work.

“Parent perception is often ‘how are they going to cope in this big environment?’ But once they’ve seen it in action they are far more positive towards it,” Adrienne says.

“There’s a huge amount of scaffolding and planning and systems in place to make sure that students don’t slip through the cracks. I think parents sometimes feel that their child will get lost in that environment. The strongest factor about the success of the environments are not only the systems in place but also the personnel involved and the relationships that they build with the students and between the staff.”


BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 10:37 am, 25 January 2019

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