St Luke’s Grammar School Virtual Site Tour

Published: Tuesday 17 November 2020

On the 22nd of October, the NSW Chapter of Learning Environments Australasia broadcast our first virtual site tour. We visited the new Junior School building at St Luke’s Grammar School, Dee Why campus, via a series of videos produced by the school and a live Q and A session.

With its vivid balustrading and strong sculptural form over four storeys, the new building is a marvellous addition to the campus, providing learning environments for most of the school’s 350 junior students. This building contains 12 general learning areas, with associated breakout spaces and staff facilities, as well as Cottage (Pre-K) facilities on the roof, including a roof playground for the youngest students.

Designed by Peter Tonkin and Vanessa van Schalkwyk, from Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects, the building was created within the confines set out in the Educational SEPP, which established the allowable building height, required setbacks and total number of floors. The planning process was completed over twelve months, and the construction took 18 months, to realise the vision of learning spaces that would enhance and support the learning of all students.

The building takes the form of two wings, around a central space that is open to the sky, which allows for the entire student population to interact via the area that is considered the ‘heart’ of the building. The orientation of the building provides protection from the winds that can be forceful in this relatively exposed location, whilst also allowing for enjoyment of the breathtaking views down to the ocean.

The Head of Junior School, Adam Lear, reiterated the vision that the school had of creating a new facility that would support and extend students and the teaching staff to authentically develop learning outcomes and to instil in the students an understanding of their learning process. Focus during the construction phase, which extended over 18 months, was on preparing teachers to effectively use the new spaces. With a shift towards flexible teaching, or co-teaching, it was imperative that the staff were supported in adapting to a new way of teaching, whilst also keeping the focus on the final outcome, which was the learning of the students.

We were also given an insight into the views of a range of students who are using these new facilities, with the student voice being the focus of the third video. It was fascinating to hear what the students think of their new space, and how they and the teachers are adapting. Overall the impact of the new bigger, more flexible spaces are proving a hit, with students and teachers alike.

Thank you to our sponsors, Woods and Interface, for supporting this event, and to Batgers who has been our Chapter sponsor throughout 2020.

If you missed the webinar, you can view it here.

Article: Felicity Lewis

Images: Danielle Hargrove, St Luke’s Grammar School