Master Planning Pays in Spades!

Published: Sunday 15 August 2021

On May 5, a contingent of 60 members and associates were rewarded for their evening journey to the outer metropolitan Christies Beach High School, with an exemplary lesson in how a master planned approach can transform an ageing 1960s government school into a vibrant learning environment, that is responding to the changing demands of secondary schooling in the 2020s.

Ably hosted by Principal Graham Clark and senior staff Skai Perkins and  Sean Bennett, with support from David Bernard, Matt Rundell and Simon Xotta-Dickson of  Flightpath Architects, the LEA event  started with  some background on the LEOS (Learning Environment Opportunities Study)  about 5 years ago  in which Flightpath Architects  developed the site  development framework. This has enabled the school to embark on a transformational journey which is making the most of the 1960s module based buildings and the generous, but previously under-utilised, external quadrant areas. Significantly, one of the projects showcased was largely internally funded, demonstrating that a strong well-articulated master plan can serve as a driver for prioritising  internal resourcing as an alternative  to central  capital funding in a government school setting.

The visit showcased three recently commissioned projects that address the particular needs of the diverse student cohort drawn from this southern metropolitan community with a history of socio-economic disadvantage. 

The Middle School  facility opened in 2019 has linked  three existing teaching blocks into an integrated facility  that currently accommodates over 220 Year 8 and 9 students  with linked learning spaces and access to common breakout and informal learning zones , staff and visiting specialist facilities. It features a  striking common entry space addressing the existing amphitheatre and central quadrant. An additional component feature of the facility is the centrally located Targeted Learning Centre enabling students with special learning needs to receive individually targeted support in a mainstream setting identical in look and feel to the rest of the Middle School learning spaces. The transparency built into the facility reinforces collaboration and respect, which is evident in the pride that both staff and students have shown  in the facilities over the two years since its opening.

The Middle School is set to accommodate Year 7 and 8 in 2022 in line with the SA Government move to transfer Year 7 out of the Primary into Secondary. The existing facility is well equipped for its new role.

The STEM centre repurposes a zone originally designed for yesteryears’ Tech Studies curriculum to create an integrated STEM facility that integrates computer based design, prototyping  and manufacturing with  facilities accommodating more traditional manual creative and technical skill development. This enables students to fully explore the cyclic nature of  the creative process as it plays out in the workplace. A feature of the facility is again its transparency and also the distinctive animated LED -lit entry which celebrates the boundless  opportunities to be explored in the STEM centre, and its synergy with the creative arts. This entry transforms a previously non-descript corner of the central quadrant into a lively drawcard.

The Inclusive Education Centre (IEC) is purposely designed as  a safe and supportive  facility for students with significant additional needs. The facility features 7 units, each accommodating up to 8 students. Each unit comprises of  formal and informal learning spaces, kitchen facilities and external breakout areas  which combine to support  life skills development in addition to more  traditional curriculum. A shared landscaped courtyard provides a non – threatening setting for interaction between the unit groups. While conforming with the modularity of the original school buildings the IEC makes full use of the external circulation and passive and active learning possibilities of the open space between the single story units.

The school is currently undergoing a major capital upgrade which is accommodating the consequential demands of adding Year 7 to the school and other internal and external improvements. LEA look forward to a future visit after the next chapter in its transformation.

Article kindly written by Andrew Gehling

Photograph provided by Flightpath