At NorvaNivel, we're proud to have worked with thousands of progressive educators who understand the importance of space for pedagogy. One of our longest partnerships is with Penrith Christian School. Based in Orchard Hills, NSW, PCS is home to early childhood education through to Year 12. In the past eight years we have worked closely with PCS principal Bruce Nevill to transform nearly every learning space for flexibility and collaboration, and to faciliate their inquiry based learning.
The result has been a student body more engaged in learning. “We started changing the setup in the rooms to get away from those rows and desks and no back corners. These are places for people to chill out and not engage, and so that’s where our journey began,” Mr. Nevill said.
When PCS first embarked on their journey to flexible learning spaces, they were driven to support a change in pedagogy through space; however, they also saw new spaces as an impetus to changing pedagogy.
Changing from rows of desks and facing the front of the room meant that teaching was no longer going to be contained to the front of the room, but everywhere. For many teachers, this meant a change in approach and "different ways of getting collaboration, cooperation, and so on working with the students through different types of activities.” Lessons in these new spaces were more conducive to student-centred activities where the teacher acts as the facilitator, but could support the students in exploring and learning on their own or in groups.
Moving the focus from the front of the classroom has been essential to encouraging student engagement. According to Mr. Nevill, "They get help a lot more quickly, either from their friends or from the teacher [walking] around. And I’ve found that they’re actually much more excited about learning than what they were before."
The furniture used to create these spaces include the Campfire Booth Collection, a collection of seats and surfaces designed to provide a large instructional learning space for explicit teaching; Paris Lounge, a deep upholstered seat, which is unique take on traditional classroom seating and ergonomically suited to an agile learning space; the Seed Collection, designed by NorvaNivel for collaborative learning and one of the most flexible working surfaces available; and Flip Tables, space saving tables can be added to any space to provide additonal surfaces or mobile whiteboards.The flexible spaces have resulted in greater student collaboration, communication, and engagement. “They’re able to design a space that is exciting, adjustable and conducive to individual activities,” Nevill states. “When you give [students] an alternative and open up some options for how they sit, it’s amazing how it just removes the barriers that were there to learning,” Principal Nevill said.