Oranga School is located in the small residential suburb of Oranga, Auckland, New Zealand. The school sits in the shadow of the extinct volcano Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill) and is nine kilometres to the southeast of the city centre. It has a current roll of 360 comprising mainly Pākehā and Tongan students, and smaller groups of students who are Māori, Samoan and other ethnicities. The roll is predicted to grow quickly over the next few years due to the large numbers of ‘In-fill’ housing being built in the suburb to meet the housing crisis in Auckland.

The school is in the midst of a major building project on site, to allow for roll growth, this comprises of a new ‘Innovative Learning Environment’. The new build is due to be completed by the end of Term two. At the same time, a 6-classroom block is being modernised into Innovative Learning Spaces and will also be completed by the end of Term two. We hope to cover these two projects in greater detail in future blog posts.

Principal of Oranga School, Bridget was appointed to the roll in June 2019 and arrived in the middle of the design phase for the new spaces. After a visit to NZ by Terry White (Project Director) and Murray Hudson (Gratnells Managing Director) in February 2020, Bridget and her school were invited to join the Planning Learning Spaces project.

Terry White explains how this partnership started with the school. “It was a natural evolution of our publication “Planning Learning Spaces” to work with schools in partnership to use our process framework to develop a learning-led design approach for the development, design and transitioning to new spaces and places to learn within schools. Our process recognises the importance of all those involved in learning and living in new or remodelled learning environments to be the co-creators not the consumers of these spaces. We believe that to achieve this there needs to be a culture of openness and collaboration where everyone can be a leader of learning and be empowered through the new design process.

To enable and establish such an ethos where such approaches are valued, made explicit and modelled in day to practice for everyone in a school and its learning community requires committed and innovatory leadership. In developing our early projects in New Zealand, it was a pleasure to be asked by Bridget to work together with her and her staff to put Planning Learning Spaces in Practice into action to support the design of new and remodelled spaces in the school. I first worked with Bridget at Freemans Bay School, Auckland. We shared many learning conversations and being invited with the Planning Learning Spaces Team to engage with her again as the new Principal of Oranga was a privilege. Bridget is a committed and exceptional leader. We knew that through working together with her and the staff we would not only be able to support the design and development of new learning spaces but gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of our design framework process.

We were able to take an innovator design approach through our framework to focus on the learning behaviours and activities desired in this new collaborative space to be remodelled from of an existing traditional six classroom block. Through this process with Bridget and the staff the initial design developed to offer a shared and collaborative use of the learning zone and a wider ranging and diverse range of learning activities.”

Similarly to our pilot school, Grey Lynn Primary, Oranga school had a number of PLS workshops facilitated by Sandra Jenkins.

Principal of Oranga, Bridget Lummis says “When the School started with working with Sandra on ‘Planning Learning Spaces’, one of the key discussions we had with our staff was talking about zoning. Looking at the different learning zones and how teachers were going to work within the zones, rather than just looking at it as one big teaching space. We were able to break it down and look at not only where those breakout spaces were going to be placed, but how the learners could be supported in these spaces, particularly those learners who had sensory needs. So that for me was a really important part of the process and the staff really responded to that. You could see as well that after that particular ‘Professional Learning’ session the staff went away, looked at the current spaces that they were in and how they could incorporate those sorts of areas within them. Looking at where the large grouping spaces were, where there were more opportunities for individualized learning opportunities, and where the group works sort of happens. I think that this was a really crucial part of our Journey.”

Principal Bridget Lummis gives us her thoughts on working with the PLS team to modernise the school buildings.

Blog post written by Doug Crutch (NZ Facilitator)

Bhavini Pandya Gratnells Learning Rooms Leader and Lead Project Facilitator
Bhavini Pandya