Our Lady of the Southern Cross Primary School, Manor Lakes
Winner Category 1 – Entire new educational facility
2-20 Howqua Way, Wyndham Vale 2024 Victoria
Peter Clarke Photography
Our Lady of the Southern Cross has a pedagogy of modern personalised learning. The school has 3 learning spaces each accommodating P-Year 6 students working within open, flexible spaces with team teaching. The Learning spaces provide wet areas for art, science and cooking, break-out spaces for conference groups or small discussion, areas for large and small groups working at tables or on the floor, raised areas for floor work and mezzanine space for quiet, independent work.
The design allows for ease of movement between indoor and outdoor learning and the sharing of indoor spaces for every variety of learning activity. The embedded technology builds the independent and interdependent learning strategies of the students as they engage with learning and involve themselves in networking with other schools and online experts.
Our personalised learning focus caters for the individual learning needs of each student and develops students’ ability to map their own learning journey through the setting of individual goals and the timetabling of learning events. The students work with a group of teachers who are team teaching within the open space. Teachers interact with and engage the students as whole groups, small groups and on an individual basis as the learning requires. The physical environment makes this working strategy possible through the easy flow from one area to another and the clear visibility afforded by the “no wall” space.
Students respond very positively to the sense of freedom and movement that is experienced in the working space. They are not feeling ‘boxed in’ and can avail themselves of resources and equipment throughout the learning area as needed. The students select the area they are working in according to the learning or to their physical and emotional needs. This is particularly evident for the special needs students – Asperger’s, Autistism & ADHD- who moderate their environment and are able to de-stress by moving to quiet spaces on their own or joining small working groups. Our Irlen students find the lighting, colour schemes and structure of spaces minimise their space orientation difficulties and the soft lighting helps maintain their focus and reduces the stress they feel when working in glary environments. Students are able to stay on task and gain the most from their learning.Staff as well as students benefit from the unlimited flexibility of the spaces. Teachers have the opportunity to observe other teachers at work and to support each other through modelled teaching and learning strategies. Teamwork is easily facilitated as walls do not inhibit working partnerships and the shared working relationship with students. The staff planning and resource areas are well laid out and allow teachers personal space as well as shared planningspace. Resources for learning are easily accessible and shared.
The major success of the 3 learning environments stem from the effective planning and discussion around the pedagogy that drives our learning and the design criteria of our Architects, Baldasso Cortese. The focus has been on a vision for 21st century learning and the incorporation of flexibility and versatility in the physical environment. Every aspect of the building and the outside learning spaces work to provide a real cohesion between the physical environment and the educational pedagogy.