Portable classroom dividers from Portable Partitions Australia are being used by a primary school in Plumpton, New South Wales to create a flexible learning environment for their students.

Educators are under pressure to set up their classrooms so that the learning space is optimised to best meet the needs of their students. Traditional classrooms are losing their relevance as teachers try to engage students in independent learning opportunities or provide differentiated learning.

The Good Shepherd Primary School in Plumpton, New South Wales, Australia is one school that has sought to provide a truly student-centred learning environment. The school utilises mixed ability learning groups to differentiate instruction and meet the needs of all students. Portable classroom dividers are one possible way to structure the physical space of a classroom to facilitate such learning, with teachers coordinating various student groups, assisted by support staff and even volunteers.

Results from a study conducted in Blackpool, England during the 2011-2012 school year revealed why portable classroom dividers worked better than a more permanent solution of designating specific areas to small-group instruction. The study showed an interesting correlation between the academic success of students across seven primary schools and the manner in which the classroom environment was structured. The use of flexible spaces was just one of several factors identified as having a significant impact on student learning (Vanhemert, 2013). Another study by Herman Miller, Inc. (2007) identified the classroom’s physical environment at the college level as having a strong impact on student engagement and self-directed learning.

Educators have, over the past several years, striven to bring this sort of student-centred structure to the K-12 level. Even at the earliest primary level, there is something to be gained by allowing students to work within a flexible classroom environment that encourages them to take ownership of their learning.

Portable classroom dividers, such as those supplied by Portable Partitions Australia, give teachers at the primary level a unique solution to the problem of space and student attention. Young students, by nature, need a classroom environment that is visually stimulating and also provides spaces for focused, distraction-free learning.

A first grade teacher could, for example, utilise StraightWall acoustic portable partitions with a fabric covering to create smaller learning spaces where guided reading or math groups could be held and be physically, visually and aurally separated from students rotating through independent word stations. Special needs students can have a safe space in the classroom where support personnel and special education staff can work with them in an area that is free of distractions.

Portable room dividers reaching to wall height also offer a practical solution for schools where actual classroom space needs to be created from larger spaces while allowing the dividers to be flexibly removed when the larger space is required again.