"Rebuild or Refurbish" and the impact of pedagogy - Kelburn Normal School NZ

Published: Wednesday 28 November 2018

The New Zealand Chapter's term 4 event in Wellington at Kelburn Normal School on 6 November was very well attended. The event was held in the school's new teaching block that had been completed just three months earlier.

The themes of the evening were ‘Rebuild or Refurbish’ and speakers addressed the impact on pedagogy at Kelburn Normal Primary as a result of the rebuild decision.

Attendees heard from Brian Elliott, the architect for the project from Designgroup Stapleton Elliott (DGSE), Rob Giller from the Ministry of Education Infrastructure and members of the school’s Senior Management Team including Principal Andrew Bird and Deputy Principals Danielle Sanders and Charles Bisley.

The decision to rebuild the teaching block came after plans to refurbish the school revealed the need for more complex seismic strengthening and other remediation works. Beginning with a new footprint had the added bonus of providing greater flexibility in the internal design. Both levels are open and inviting, with break-out spaces, corners, and furniture naturally and flexibly segmenting parts of the block into purposeful spaces for different learning activities.

School leaders describe the space as a ‘vibrant, well connected, physical environment that encourages and supports many different types of learning’ and say that the ‘flexibility will help teachers equip our children with the skills and knowledge they need.’

The acoustic treatments in the space are particularly effective with event attendees noting that you would never know the school is on a busy road as you can’t hear traffic even in the adjacent teaching spaces.

The project was not without lessons learnt and the teachers in attendance noted that getting used to life with less storage is proving challenging.

Before the new build, the school had been developing a pedagogy that was student-centred, promoted community engagement, creativity and curiosity and encouraged children to be lifelong learners.

The new building is another step in advancing this vision and ensuring that the physical space supports the practise within it.

Article: Sara Bishop, Ministry of Education
Photo: Callum McKenzie, McKenzie Higham Architects