CEFPI Victorian Chapter Conversation, 26th February 2015

Published: Thursday 12 March 2015

Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences, University High 

On Thursday February 26th the CEFPI Victorian Chapter held a ‘conversation’ at the Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences, a new school integrated onto the campus of University High School in Parkville. The facility was a joint venture between the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the University of Melbourne. The project brief asked the architects, Clarke Hopkins Clarke, and others involved in delivering the facility to imagine an environment that would ignite and encourage students’ passions for learning and create pathways for students to engage in further science education at tertiary level.

Students and teachers are welcomed by a warm light-filled space as they enter the school. Lockers integrated into the learning spaces are clearly labelled with the periodic table, a reminder of the specialised educational program on offer. Lecture-style explicit teaching spaces, open collaborative settings, laboratories, and quiet study zones afford a range of learning experiences. The lecture spaces allow teachers to deliver curriculum content to several classes at once, a strategic move to free-up time for planning and dialogue with individual students.

The pedagogical vision and the use of the spaces has been complemented and enhanced by a willingness of teachers to change the traditional school organisational structures to one more reflective of higher education. Students speak of how they thrive in unstructured study sessions, finding nooks and spaces that invite them to stay and study with peers.

The ‘conversation’ at Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences was enjoyed by more than 70 CEFPI members and friends. All enjoyed this example of effective collaboration between educators and architects to create a physical learning environment that supports an innovative educational program and pedagogical approach. The project was awarded the 2014 Victorian Chapter Award for An Educative Initiative / Design Solution for an Innovative Program.


Author credit – Leanne Rose-Munroe

Image credit – Heather Mitcheltree