Educators at Western Australia’s Hale School enlisted architects SITE to help translate new pedagogy into a reimagined Junior School.
Prepare, teach, connect — it’s the learning methodology that’s revolutionising the school. After more than 30 years as an educator, head of Hale Junior School, Alex Cameron drew upon significant research and countless teacher consultations to conceive the three-step strategy.
The ‘prepare’ phase involves music sessions to limber up the brain. The subsequent ‘teach’ phase focuses on explicit instruction for subjects like maths and English. Then the ‘connect’ phase rounds out the day with group work.
SITE director Paul Edwards was determined to help bring those three phases to life. “The design incorporates a hierarchy of spaces,” he says.
“Whilst some areas can accommodate large groups for high-energy, high-volume activities, others are smaller in size and ideal for general group and individual learning sessions,” says Edwards.
All learning spaces are multi-functional. For example, audio visual equipment required for the ‘prepare’ phase of the day can be easily stored. Then furnishings can be swiftly reconfigured for the ‘teach’ phase of the day. This cost-effective strategy demands fewer fitouts but maximises accessibility of resources.
A seamless transition between each learning phase is delivered via thoughtful design that links large communal areas — ideal for group work and peer-to-peer learning — with covered courtyards that can be accessed year round.
According to Cameron, the design is an overwhelming success.
“We now have flexible learning environments that enhance and are responsive to both staff objectives and student outcomes,” he says.
“SITE understood our vision and crystalised it into an effective and efficient master plan.”
Importantly, the design of the facilities is sufficiently robust to accommodate new teaching methods in years to come.