The New South Wales Government is considering the idea of trialling ‘morning and afternoon schools’ to reduce peak traffic problems. The double school option is among several suggestions made by NSW education minister Rob Stokes at the recent launch of a new report on school design by leading design and engineering firm Arup.

However, the double school idea will initially be piloted to ascertain its implications.

Stokes also believes all schools – public, private and Catholic – should open up their libraries and sports fields to the local community. He explained that these schools, by their very nature, are public spaces and therefore, should share their facilities with the community.

The education minister also shared his ideas on public school design at the event. For instance, he said the conventional design of a public school is based on a fenced layout where the buildings are wrapped around a concrete play area with an oval to the side. This reflected the institutionalisation of the education system, which needed to change in the modern context.

Stokes suggested that new public schools need to consider innovative teaching methods, and also involve the local community at the design stage. NSW’s school building program currently works with local architects, parents and teachers with a view to incorporate the local context in the design.

The Arup report calls for new schools to be more flexible to reflect the rapidly evolving nature of educational environments including different teaching methods, activities and growth in student numbers. The report also addresses the challenges involved in introducing new technology and digital teaching methods in schools that operate with ageing infrastructure.