Australian Education Awards – Innovation in Learning Environment Design
We are thrilled to announce our recent A-Cluster development at Wheelers Hill Campus has been shortlisted as an Excellence Awardee for the Australian Education Awards 2023 – Innovation in Learning Environment Design.
Not only has this innovative design project changed the immediate landscape of our School, it has given Caulfield Grammar School’s Wheelers Hill Campus the ability to grow its student community and provide a more tailored, diverse and inclusive curriculum for our students.
As part of Caulfield Grammar School’s strategic goals, we set out to develop contemporary learning environments and innovative learning opportunities fit for the future of learning.
The idea for this project grew from a desire to create a completely new type of learning space – a place that redefines learning for the Junior School at Wheelers Hill Campus. It was vital that this project created a truly future-focused learning environment reflecting the collective vision of all stakeholders – students, staff and parents. Stakeholder considerations and feedback were taken on board at all stages of the planning, and putting student needs first was always at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
The design has created a learning environment that reflects both our teaching approach (grounded in the IB PYP curriculum) and the importance we place on encouraging students to explore their curiosity and creativity to reach their full potential. This was reflected in the connection of the design to the natural environment, with native landscaping and colour schemes connecting the indoors to the outdoors through seamless design, and as an extension of Jells Park next door and the Dandenong Ranges beyond.
We partnered with external professionals who shared our vision, led by building partner McIldowie Partners. The playground was designed by a landscape architect with a strong background in educational spaces and inclusion, and the building itself is DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) approved to ensure accessibility. To cause the least amount of disruption to students and staff, building modules were prefabricated off-campus, then trucked in to be put back together. This meant we could still function as a school throughout the building process.
It also created a real ‘buzz’ of excitement for students as their School was transformed before their eyes, making them feel part of the whole experience. As our students have been involved in the project from the initial planning of its conception, they now feel a greater sense of ownership and connection with their spaces and learning. Teachers incorporated learning elements into student classes during this period to take them on the journey, create excitement and to gain interesting learning outcomes.
This project has transformed our Junior School by creating a truly innovative learning environment that offers many more adaptive indoor and outdoor opportunities for quality teaching and learning every day – promoting curiosity and creativity and encouraging exploration in areas of personal interest.
Everyone who has made this innovative learning environment possible is proud of how it has increased the quality of our school curriculum. By significantly improving our ability to teach and connect more successfully with students, it has created a greater sense of belonging and integration with our School community.
Australian Education Award winners will be announced on Friday 11 August.