Welcome to Inclusive Education.


Planning an innovative learning environment

http://inclusive.tki.org.nz/guides/ile/

This guide provides strategies and suggestions for developing innovative learning environments (ILE) that work for all learners. It focuses on supporting schools that are planning a new build or building modifications.

Sensitivity to individual differences and learner variability must be a driver for decisions relating to pedagogy, practice, and design of flexible spaces. The guide emphasises the need to plan in partnership with students, teachers, parents, and experts.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles underpin the approach, recognising and supporting the learning and wellbeing of all students.

Download the ILE guide summary (PDF 128KB).

Understanding pedagogy as integral to innovative learning environments (ILE)

The National Curriculum (NZC and TMoA) puts learners at the centre of teaching and learning. Use Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles as your foundation for developing an ILE that meets the needs of all learners.

Design flexible, inclusive environments that are respectful of and responsive to individual learner preferences, needs, and values.

Source: EDtalks (NZ)

Closed captioning available in player

Suggestions and resources

An ILE is an ecosystem (image)
Components of an ILE
Learners, educators, content, and resources form the pedagogical core

An ILE is an ecosystem that includes the activity and outcomes of learning.

It includes the physical, social, and pedagogical context in which learning occurs.

It is a holistic concept.

Source: Reproduced from OECD

An ILE is an ecosystem
The pedagogical core

Learners, educators, content, and resources form the “pedagogical core” of a learning environment.

Rethinking these core elements, and planning in collaboration with students, teachers, parents, and whānau is fundamental to innovating your learning environment.

Plan professional learning opportunities that support innovative teacher practice in a flexible space to meet the individual needs of all learners.

Source: OECD (2013), Innovative Learning Environments (p. 11). OECD Publishing, Paris.

The pedagogical core
Learner needs inform practice

Innovative learning environments are learner-focused and emphasise successful learner outcomes. They encourage collaboration and inquiry, both for learners and teachers, and allow teachers to teach in ways that best suit the identified needs of all learners.

An ILE is capable of evolving and adapting as educational practices evolve and learner needs change – thus remaining future focused.

In an ILE, the National Curriculum (NZC and TMoA) is expressed in the way it is intended, with students:

  • developing the competencies they need for study, work, and lifelong learning, so they may go on to realise their potential
  • at the centre of teaching and learning
  • experiencing a forward-looking, inclusive curriculum that engages and challenges them.

Source: Ministry of Education

Learner needs inform practice
ILEs and flexible learning spaces

Flexible learning spaces (FLS) refer to the infrastructure element of an ILE. Many schools elect to create FLS to support innovative approaches to learning and teaching.

Flexible learning spaces enhance the ability of educators to work collaboratively and create innovative learning environments.

Flexible learning spaces have the right acoustics, lighting, technology, heating and air quality to support learning. The spaces can be easily configured and used in a number of different ways to support and enable a range of teaching and learning approaches on any given day or at any time of the day.

Access and choice for all students is an important consideration when planning inclusive spaces.

Source: Ministry of Education

ILEs and flexible learning spaces

Resources and downloads

Talking terminology

Information about the principles for innovative learning. Terminology is defined and links to reports on innovative learning environments are provided.

The National Curriculum

The Ministry of Education’s Innovative Learning Environment website relates pedagogy to The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

The nature of learning: Using research to inspire practice

The lessons from research on the nature of learning and different educational applications are explained in this book. These are summarised through the seven key principles of learning.

21st Century learning environments

The design of flexible learning spaces is explored using case studies from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK, and the US. This OECD report covers designing schools in a changing world, technology, the design process, and sustainable and quality design.

Waitākiri School – Leading collaborative practice

Principal, Neill O’Reilly describes in this PowerPoint the building blocks of collaborative practice that are essential to the new learning approaches that are being implemented in Waitākiri School.

Equity and diversity

The curriculum is non-discriminatory

Understanding and valuing equity is integral to supporting the achievement of diverse learners.

Diversity encompasses everyone's variations and differences, including their cultures and backgrounds.

Equity has two dimensions, which are closely intertwined.

  1. Fairness – ensuring personal and social circumstances (such as gender, socio-economic status, or ethnic origin) are not an obstacle to achieving educational potential.
  2. Inclusion – ensuring an agreed standard of education for all students – students’ identities, languages, abilities, and talents are recognised and affirmed and their learning needs are addressed.

Knowing your learners and engaging with parents and whānau is essential to designing learning approaches that are supported by flexible learning spaces and meet the needs of diverse learners.

Source: OECD, (2008). Ten steps to equity in education

Equity and diversity
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) (video)
Plan for all learners from the outset

UDL is a research-based framework that informs planning to meet the diverse and variable needs of all students.

Identify potential barriers to learning, in teaching approaches and the environment, at the outset to create a more learner-centred environment.

View transcript

Source: Inspiring EducatioAreen (Canada)

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
Seven principles of learning

The OECD’s work is based on a strong foundation of research and aligns very closely with the National Curriculum. The OECD recommends seven principles for innovative learning.

Unpack each of these principles and identify: how they will be enacted in your ILE, what PLD is needed, and how you can design a space to support them.

  1. Learners are the core participants, encourage active engagement and develop in them an understanding of their own activity as learners.

  2. Ensure that learning is social and often collaborative.

  3. Be attuned to learners’ motivations and the role of emotions in achievement.

  4. Be sensitive to individual differences including learners’ prior knowledge.

  5. Set high expectations for each learner without excessive overload.

  6. Use assessments consistent with these aims, with strong emphasis on formative feedback.

  7. Promote horizontal connectedness across learning activities and subjects, in and out of school.

Source: OECD (2013), Innovative Learning Environments, Educational Research and Innovation, OECD Publishing.

Seven principles of learning
Evidence-based approaches

To provide quality teaching and learning, teachers and leaders need to reflect on evidence gathered from their practice by:

  • constantly reviewing the impact of their teaching practice on learning
  • actively seeking external observation and critique by colleagues and more experienced teachers and leaders
  • seeking and contributing to evidence of what works to improve learning outcomes and ways they can apply that in their day-to-day practice
  • innovating when “what works” doesn’t work for all learners, or all of the time.

 

Source: Ministry of Education

Evidence-based approaches

Resources and downloads

The New Zealand Curriculum Update, issue 26 – Future-oriented learning and teaching

An outline of key themes that inform future-oriented learning for young New Zealanders.

The nature of learning: Using research to inspire practice

The lessons from research on the nature of learning and different educational applications are explained in this book. These are summarised through the seven key principles of learning.

Educational research and innovation: Innovative learning environments

This research-based book, based on 40 in-depth case studies of innovative twenty-first-century learning environments, describes how to design a powerful learning environment where learners can thrive.

Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching – a New Zealand perspective

A report commissioned by the Ministry of Education. Theme 2 explores new views of equity, diversity, and inclusivity.

Designing schools in New Zealand: Requirements and guidelines

The principal document in the Ministry of Education’s national guidelines for school property design.

The New Zealand school property strategy 2011–2021

The vision for school property as safe and inspiring learning environments.

Schooling redesigned: Towards innovative learning systems

The OECD’s Innovative Learning Environments (ILE) project analyses how young people learn and the conditions and dynamics that improve learning.

The impact of physical design on student outcomes

This report summarises research aimed at better understanding design features of learning spaces in the context of learning and achievement. Topics covered in this report include: lighting, heating, acoustics, indoor and outdoor spaces, and furniture considerations.

Pedagogy drives the design

Plan an environment that supports:

  1. the shift from students acquiring knowledge to having agency over their learning

  2. personalised learning, recognising that students learn in different ways

  3. using digital technologies to support learning and the inclusion of all students – consider the infrastructure and technologies needed for your students

  4. applying principles of UDL to enable all students to participate and experience success

  5. the learning and teaching systems and approaches needed for diverse students, such as those who are Deaf or hard of hearing, have ADHD, or vision impairments 

  6. flexibility, to meet the specific needs of all your learners – current and future.

Pedagogy drives the design
Place the learner at the centre

UDL principles inform inclusive design

Innovative learning environments must be grounded in knowledge of how people learn and the circumstances in which they do this most powerfully.

Design a learning environment that:

  • recognises the students as its core participants
  • encourages students’ active engagement
  • supports students to develop an understanding of themselves as learners.

Source: Schooling redesigned: Towards innovative learning systems

Place the learner at the centre
Design for all learners (NZ) (video)
Spaces that support learning for all

Three Christchurch schools share their learning space designs, which support educational practices that meet the needs of diverse learners.

View transcript

Source: Ministry of Education (NZ)

Design for all learners (NZ)
Identify student needs (image)
Students at Ōtorohanga College
Student needs inform teacher practice and learning design

Support learners to understand their needs as learners. Understand their motivations, the importance of emotions in achievement, and the social nature of learning. Be sensitive to learners’ individual differences and their prior knowledge.

Source: Ministry of Education

Identify student needs
Personalise learning through flexible design (image)
DSC 0184
Students understand how they learn

To support engagement and participation in learning, create environments students can tailor to meet their own needs and preferences.

Source: Ministry of Education

Personalise learning through flexible design

Resources and downloads

The third teacher – Case study

Architect, Trung Le explains in this video what happens when authentic learning studios replace traditional classrooms. The design supports children learning differently and at their own pace.

Will innovative learning environments work for everyone?

This CORE Education blog post explores some key aspects of how and why we design for everyone.

The New Zealand Curriculum Update, issue 26 – Future-oriented learning and teaching

An outline of key themes that inform future-oriented learning for young New Zealanders.

The nature of learning: Using research to inspire practice

The lessons from research on the nature of learning and different educational applications are explained in this book. These are summarised through the seven key principles of learning.

Innovative learning environments

This Ministry of Education website explains and provides examples of all aspects of ILEs.

Summary of design standards

A list of the design standards that apply to school building projects. It sets out legal requirements, Ministry requirements, and best practice standards.

Why plan for flexibility?

Flexible learning spaces provide new opportunities for learning and teaching

Before planning your flexible learning space, be clear on your purpose.

  • Peel everything back to see the “why”, so that options for change become clear.
  • The “why” is important – there can be many different versions of “what” you build.
  • There has to be a clear purpose for each learning space – a general purpose space ends up being everything and nothing.

  • Plan for deep understanding of the rationale behind your space – this takes time.

Source: Waimairi School case study, Ministry of Education

Why plan for flexibility?
Designing for diversity

Consider the diverse needs of all students from the outset

21st century learning encourages the use of a variety of teaching methods to meet the individual needs of all students.

Consider the types of spaces and design of spaces with specific learners’ needs in mind. For example, how are students who are Deaf or hard of hearing, have ASD, dyslexia, vision impairments, or physical disabilities included in spaces for:

  • social and collaborative learning
  • student-directed/teacher-directed learning
  • independent learning
  • project work
  • direct instruction?
Designing for diversity
Adaptable spaces enable inclusion (image)
Teacher and student in a classroom designed as a flexible space providing room for a wheelchair and low windows for an easy view to outside
Design flexibly

Spaces must be adaptable and future-proofed to adjust to evolving learning and teaching practices, student diversity, and community needs. Consider acoustic standards for the hard of hearing, lighting to reduce glare, the width of doorways and corridors, and increasing use of digital technologies.

Source: Ministry of Education

Adaptable spaces enable inclusion
Supporting learning (image)
Student at work in classroom
Multiple options support success

“My son comes home and tells me he can find the space to focus.”

– Parent, Pegasus Bay School

Source: Ministry of Education

Supporting learning

Resources and downloads

Flexible learning environments

This video by Parkland School Division shares their vision and progress developing a flexible learning environment and in empowering students through flexitime.

Flexible learning spaces: How infrastructure can support innovative learning

This website provides information on creating flexible learning spaces and optimising spaces for learning in New Zealand schools.

Flexible learning spaces in schools

Information about upgrading schools to become flexible learning spaces on the Ministry of Education website includes definitions of a variety of different types of learning spaces, along with links to school case studies.

Innovative learning environments: CORE white paper

The design of inclusive ILEs is considered in this white paper by Mark Osborne of CORE Education.

How physical disabilities can influence learning

A summary of the challenges students with physical disabilities experience at school, and an outline of teaching opportunities to support learning. A Ministry of Education publication.

Back to top

Using a collaborative process to develop an inclusive ILE

Engage with students, teachers, parents and whānau, experts, and your local community. Work together to plan an ILE that meets the specific needs of your whole community.

Involve students in the design process from the outset. Utilise student inquiry and ensure students form part of your planning team.

Source: EDtalks (NZ)

Suggestions and resources

Values inform your approach

The values of the school are deeply held beliefs highlighting what our school community considers most important for our learners, so that they will thrive in diverse communities.

These values will be reflected in all actions and interactions, including with learning settings within our school.

Source: Rob Callaghan – Principal, St Martins School
Values inform your approach
Include parent and community voice (NZ) (video)
Partnerships at Halswell School

Students, teachers, and parents defined what their school community valued most. This was reflected in their design.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Include parent and community voice (NZ)
Plan for the future (image)
How I learn best
Design for diversity

Students and teachers describe how their 21st century school is designed to meet the needs of students in this video from Pegasus Bay School.

Video transcript

Source: Pegasus Bay School (NZ)

Plan for the future

Resources and downloads

21st Century learning environments

The design of flexible learning spaces is explored using case studies from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK, and the US. This OECD report covers designing schools in a changing world, technology, the design process, and sustainable and quality design.

Grow Waitaha monitoring and evaluation framework

An evaluation of how 256 schools worked with parents and whānau to respond to students at risk of underachievement. Examples focus on schools that worked with parents and whānau to accelerate and support progress and improve achievement. An Education Review Office (ERO) report, November 2015.

Waimairi School: Case study

This publication is one of a series, showcasing how schools have taken a pedagogical journey converting existing spaces to prototype different types of learning environments and settings. This case study is based on Waimairi School in Christchurch.

St Martins School: Case study

This publication is one of a series, showcasing how schools have taken a pedagogical journey converting existing spaces to prototype different types of learning environments and settings. This case study describes St Martins School in Christchurch.

Woolston School: Case study

This publication is one of a series, showcasing how schools have taken a pedagogical journey converting existing spaces to prototype different types of learning environments and settings. This case study looks at Woolston School, which has since merged with Philipstown School and become Te Waka Unua School.

Build a diverse team (image)
Images representing a diverse team
Identify different members’ strengths and understandings

Build a collaborative team to lead the change process. Consider their strengths, capabilities, understanding of designing for inclusion and flexibility, and their approach to leading the change process.

Source: Ministry of Education

Build a diverse team
Seek student and teacher voice

Voices of students and teachers need to be taken into account to ensure designs meet expectations and requirements.

Participation in all design phases can lessen the transitional impact as concepts, methodologies, and features are progressively exposed in context.

Source: The local context: Educational vision and teaching and learning approaches
Seek student and teacher voice
Establish a reference group

Possible reference group members

Connect with professionals and agencies experienced in inclusive design who can provide specific kinds of expertise to support planning to meet the variable learning and well-being needs of diverse learners.

  1. RTLB

  2. Dyslexia Foundation

  3. BLENNZ

  4. IHC in your community

  5. Autism NZ

  6. Speech-language therapists

  7. Hearing Association

  8. Kelston Deaf Education Centre

  9. Van Asch Deaf Education Centre

  10. New Zealand Federation for Deaf Children

  11. Hear for families

  12. Dyspraxia Support Group of New Zealand

  13. New Zealand Down Syndrome Association

  14. CCS disability action

  15. Halberg Disability Sport Foundation

Establish a reference group
Consult widely (image)
Voices representing the community
Listen to your community

Seek input from your community. Build an ongoing relationship with them to plan successful learning approaches, and flexible spaces that meets everyone’s needs.

Source: Ministry of Education

Consult widely
Access community knowledge

Students, their parents, and whānau are:

  1. inherently capable

  2. agents of their own cultures

  3. articulate in sharing with teachers and leaders their knowledge about the way their children learn and what they may need to change.

Access community knowledge

Resources and downloads

Grow Waitaha

The Grow Waitaha website supports Christchurch schools as they rebuild and plan new learning environments. The site content assists schools to achieve pedagogical change in a meaningful and manageable way within a network of support.

Where else can I get information?

A Ministry of Education webpage with links to organisations that may be able to provide information and support for diverse learners.

Supporting children who are deaf and hard of hearing

Information on the support available from the Advisers on Deaf Children (AoDCs) and Resource Teachers of the Deaf (RTDs). Links to their websites and phone numbers are included.

Planning and developing an ILE

This section of the Enabling e-Learning website provides information, resources, and school stories about innovative learning environments.

Educationally powerful connections with parents and whānau

This Education Review Office (ERO) report is an evaluation of how 256 schools worked with parents and whānau to respond to students at risk of underachievement. Examples focus schools that worked with parents and whānau to accelerate and support progress and improve achievement.

Phases of school and system improvement

Break your project into phases to inform your approach, timeline, and budget

  1. Phase One – Understanding the culture and vision for your school

  2. Phase Two – Research and review

  3. Phase Three – Planning and managing change

  4. Phase Four – Building capacity of teachers

  5. Phase Five – Ongoing reflection, evaluation and improvement.

Source: OECD (2013), Innovative Learning Environments (p.18), Educational Research and Innovation, OECD Publications.

Phases of school and system improvement
Tools to evaluate, plan, and monitor
  1. ILE assessment tool – Before you begin, use this tool to assess your school property.

  2. Educational positioning system – A comprehensive process for formative school self-review. Use this tool to shape and direct future development.

  3. Grow Waitaha monitoring and evaluation tool – Adapt or use the tool to evaluate, plan, and monitor your progress throughout the build process.

Tools to evaluate, plan, and monitor
Investigate needs (image)
Graphic representation of a spiral of inquiry
Spiral of inquiry

Set up an inquiry to understand the needs of your stakeholders. Identify pedagogical changes and the impact of these on learning.

Source: Judy Halberg and Linda Kaser (2013)

Investigate needs
Seek parents’ perspectives (NZ) (video)
Ongoing dialogue with parents supports learning design

Build relationships with parents to inform learning design, and the design of spaces that are welcoming and accessible for all learners.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Seek parents’ perspectives (NZ)
Support collaboration (video)
Visual listening wall

Support collaboration with more than talking.

Deliberately design collaborative approaches, using visuals and hands-on activities to maximise participation.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Edutopia (US)

Support collaboration

Resources and downloads

Grow Waitaha monitoring and evaluation framework

An evaluation of how 256 schools worked with parents and whānau to respond to students at risk of underachievement. Examples focus on schools that worked with parents and whānau to accelerate and support progress and improve achievement. An Education Review Office (ERO) report, November 2015.

Innovative learning environment assessment tool: Version 1.1 (MOE NZ)

This online tool for assessing school property is a support for prioritising upgrade work, including upgrading spaces to meet the Designing Quality Learning Spaces (DQLS) Guidelines. This is a Ministry of Education tool.

A framework for transforming learning in schools: Innovation and the spiral of inquiry

The spiral of inquiry process, and how it differs from teaching as inquiry, is explained in this downloadable PDF. The authors walk the reader through the framework and illustrate it with examples.

Learning studio pilot review

A reference document for those involved in providing new or remodelled facilities on school sites. It includes a summary of positive outcomes and problems encountered in a pilot development of eight FLS in schools across New Zealand. Published in 2012 by the Ministry of Education.

Innovative learning environments research study

This Australian study identifies effective steps in the preparation for, and the transition to, new learning spaces. It provides a detailed and insightful mapping of how teachers and students are currently using ILEs.

Effective school evaluation: How to do and use internal evaluation for improvement

This guide from ERO (2016) describes what effective internal evaluation is, what it involves, and how to go about it, in ways that will enhance educational outcomes for students.

Seek parents’ perspectives

An ILE will work well for everyone only if it is designed to do so

Clearly communicate the rationale for developing an ILE so that parents understand the change. Provide ongoing opportunities for communication and questions.

Listen to parents’ concerns, such as those about their child getting lost in the space and needing structure, teacher-led learning, support to make choices about their learning, too much noise, and quiet spaces to learn.

Involve parents in providing solutions. Share with the community how their concerns will be addressed.

Seek parents’ perspectives
Work in partnership with families

The Board of Trustees ran “share an idea” workshops with parents about the skills and attributes they want their children to have by the time they leave the school, and how the built environment could best support this.

The school wanted everyone – students, teachers, and parents – to understand and agree how learning happens.

Source: Waimairi School case study
Work in partnership with families
Communicate regularly (NZ) (video)
Keep communication lines open

Hampden Street School uses multiple approaches to connect with their community and to create opportunities for discussion.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Communicate regularly (NZ)
Use a variety of communication methods

Tips to support communication

  1. Use communication options, such as email, blogs, social media, parent meetings or workshops, for two-way conversations.

  2. Run workshops where families and whānau can share ideas and common concerns can be addressed.

  3. Discuss with parents and whānau how their ideas will be incorporated into the planning.

  4. Record community meetings so they can be accessed at a later time.

  5. Plan community meetings at different times of the day.

  6. Provide hands-on learning sessions so parents gain an understanding of how learning works.

  7. Provide opportunities for parents and whānau to visit other schools or view videos of other schools in action.

  8. Offer captioned video and research examples, showing how the ILE includes all learners.

  9. Develop glossaries to support understanding of new terms and technologies you may be using.

  10. Consider the communication needs of your families and whānau. Provide for those who have English as a second language, are Deaf or hard of hearing, or visually impaired.

  11. Provide regular updates on progress through newsletters, parent meetings, and the school website.

Use a variety of communication methods
Engage with the community at all stages (image)
A school community meeting
Regularly seek community feedback

Create multiple opportunities to meet with and listen to your community. Expect their diverse perspectives and experiences to inform the inclusive design of your ILE.

Source: EEL Hampden

Engage with the community at all stages
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Providing professional learning to support inclusive teaching practice before transitioning into the new space

Create multiple opportunities for teachers to expand innovative practices in flexible learning spaces. Work with staff to identify potential barriers to learning and wellbeing and plan collaborative approaches, utilising UDL principles that support all students.

There needs to be constructive alignment between the methods of the teacher and the opportunities and potential offered by these new spaces. You start with the teaching, you train people how to teach differently, and then move into the new spaces.

Source: John Hattie (2015) in, Terrains 2015 – Mapping learning environment evaluation across the design and educational landscape: Towards the evidence-based design of educational facilities

Suggestions and resources

The inclusion principle

Use the principle of inclusion to guide curriculum policy and planning, classroom programmes, and teaching practice.

Questions to ask:

  • What is our vision – what will an inclusive ILE environment look like in our school?
  • How do we specifically address inclusion in our policies – how does this inform our practice in an ILE?
  • What supports do we have (or need to put in place) to develop teacher practice so the needs of all learners are met?
  • What systems, initiatives, and programmes in our school currently support our diverse range of learners – how will these work in an ILE? 
  • How can teachers collaborate to plan and assess learning for students in an ILE – what systems will work?
  • What expertise is available within our community, for example, iwi, groups supporting specific learning needs? 
  • How are we working with parents and students to inform a plan that meets the needs of a wide range of learners?
  • How can we build in flexibility to meet the needs of future students?
The inclusion principle
Identify teachers’ needs

It was really important for us as a leadership team to ensure that we were meeting the needs of our staff. We were able to tailor our professional learning to where our teachers were at, at that point in time.

Gavin Burn, Halswell School ; Source: Pedagogy underpins practice in an innovative learning environment
Identify teachers’ needs
Prepare teachers for change

Tips for supporting staff transitioning into an ILE

  1. Set a very clear vision around learning.

  2. Take all staff and show them how ILEs work elsewhere, so that they can form their own personal ideas about what they want the school to look like. Release “experts” to have discussions with staff.

  3. Go slowly to give everyone a chance to buy-in.

  4. Create a culture where there is freedom for teachers to explore – allow your teachers to be learners.

  5. Focus on building relationships.

  6. Provide opportunities for peer coaching.

  7. Support collaboration.

  8. Build a high trust culture.

Source: Adapted from Breens Intermediate MLE Case Study

Prepare teachers for change
Address staff concerns (NZ) (video)
Preparing teachers for working in an ILE

Halswell School addressed staff concerns around the upcoming changes, using the Concerns Based Adoption Model (CBAM), before introducing new pedagogical approaches.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Address staff concerns (NZ)
Reflective questions

Questions to support discussion identifying areas of strength, and areas where support is needed

  1. What is the vision for your learners?

  2. What is currently happening that will support your development an ILE?

  3. How might teaching and learning be different in an ILE?

  4. How do teachers currently collaborate? How might this be different in an ILE?

  5. What are teachers’ beliefs about how individual children learn?

  6. How is learning personalised for students? How will this work in an ILE?

  7. How do you provide flexibility for students? What opportunities are there for students to engage and express themselves in a variety of ways?

  8. How do learners receive quality, focused feedback? Are learners confident in giving and receiving peer feedback, based on co-constructed criteria?

  9. Do Māori, Pasifika, and students from other cultures see themselves reflected in the curriculum? Is their prior knowledge valued and respected?

  10. Do learners feel their teachers know their individual strengths, needs, and interests?

  11. Are learners regularly engaged in quality, well-organised cooperative learning?

  12. Are all learners stretched through engaging and challenging work?

Reflective questions

Resources and downloads

Terrains 2015 – Mapping learning environment evaluation across the design and education landscape: Towards the evidence-based design of education facilities

These papers were presented by experts in innovative learning environments at the 2015 Terrains Symposium, organised by the Australian Research Council funded project, Evaluating 21st Century Learning Environments (E21LE), and hosted by the University of Melbourne’s Learning Environments Applied Research Network (LEaRN).

Building collaborative teaching as inquiry teams using spirals of inquiry

Rebbecca Sweeney unpacks collaborative teaching using the Spirals of Inquiry model in this CORE Education blog post.

Differentiation and adaptation

Information and examples supporting teachers with planning, developing, and reviewing the classroom curriculum to meet the needs of all learners.

Trial new approaches (NZ) (video)
Embed pedagogy before the build

Deputy Principal, Adrienne Simpson shares how Woodend School staff inquired into, and trialled, new approaches prior to moving into new buildings.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning

Trial new approaches (NZ)
Develop collaborative teaching practices

For many teachers moving from single cell classrooms into a collaborative teaching space requires a significant shift in pedagogy and ways of working.

Provide training and coaching to support high levels of communication, relational skills, and trust.

  1. Start by having pairs of teachers plan together.
  2. Support them in higher-level thinking, not compliance.
  3. Help them to review their process and identify what’s effective – both in their classroom practice and in their relationships during this development.

Source: Easier said than done: Collaborative learning

Develop collaborative teaching practices
Identify and establish learning programmes (NZ) (video)
Establish successful systems prior to the move

Gabrielle Nuthall explains why establishing the use of literacy programme, The Daily Five, provided routine and familiarity for the students at Halswell School.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Identify and establish learning programmes (NZ)
Develop systems for sharing (NZ) (video)
Key things to consider

Communication between team members, collaborative planning, flexible learning, assessment systems, and sharing data all support a successful ILE for Halswell School staff.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Develop systems for sharing (NZ)
Build inclusive practice (NZ) (video)
Identify what an inclusive environment looks like

John Robinson of Onslow College describes what an inclusive environment looks like when the needs of students are understood and met.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Build inclusive practice (NZ)

Resources and downloads

Pegasus Bay School (formerly Waikuku) School: Case study

This case study describes how one school introduced innovative teaching and learning practices before their move into a new, purpose-built facility.

Principal's sabbatical report – Term 3, 2015

Robyn Toothill, principal Somerset Crescent School, reviews the pedagogy behind the successful ILEs being implemented in low-decile schools, and discusses how these environments have been implemented with limited physical changes.

How to collaborate in schools

Ways in which collaboration in schools can be enhanced are explained and presented as an infographic by Cheryl Doig in her Think Beyond blog post.

10 Ideas for 21st century education

Ten innovative approaches to teaching and learning are described by the Innovation Unit for Public Services, based in London.

Ask students what can help (NZ) (video)
Reducing cognitive stress

Emotion and cognition are inextricably linked in the brain. Ask students what you can do to help them learn.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Ask students what can help (NZ)
Consider student perspectives

The ways classrooms are organised and managed can create anxiety for some students

Discuss possible triggers for anxiety with students and identify ways to reduce them:

  1. working in large, open spaces

  2. lining up in cramped spaces

  3. speaking in front of the class

  4. group work

  5. changing layout of furniture

  6. changing layout of rooms and spaces

  7. changes to routine

  8. lots of choices

  9. unable to see, read, or hear information

  10. noise levels

  11. bright lights and glare

  12. moving around the school with large numbers of people at once.

  13. hot seating (no fixed desk)

Consider student perspectives
Role of emotions in learning (image)
Emotional triggers and strategies to support
Emotional triggers and strategies for support

Emotions can vary across subjects, tasks, and times of day. Use these strategies to reduce stress, build a positive emotional environment, and support students to develop emotional resilience so they can learn more efficiently.

Source: Ministry of Education

Role of emotions in learning
Understand the affective network

Learners differ significantly in the ways they can be engaged or motivated to learn

Some learners are highly engaged and motivated by spontaneity and novelty, while others are disengaged, even frightened by those aspects, preferring a predictable routine.

To create environments that are safe for all learners, teachers need to:

  • develop a pedagogical understanding and sensitivity to learner differences in order to challenge learners without ridicule or demotivating them
  • ensure the physical or online space where learning takes place contributes to student learning and well-being rather than creating stress
  • adopt approaches that enhance students’ motivation to learn – this includes: using student interest and expertise, providing authentic contexts for learning, and utilising technologies.

To build further understanding, explore the videos and supporting resources from the Alberta UDL Summer Institute 2011 relating to the UDL principle of multiple means of engagement.

Source: Adapted from information from CAST

Understand the affective network
Monitor student overload

Talk with students and families

Students experience cognitive stress and overload when a task or situation is overwhelming. Cognitive fatigue accumulates. The student’s performance may deteriorate as the day progresses, or toward the end of the school week or term.

  • Regularly connect with the student and parents to discuss their workload and what is happening at home.
  • Work with the student, and their family, to prevent overload. For example, negotiate in advance expectations around completion of tasks.
  • Find out what the signs of the student being overloaded are.
  • Find out what triggers overload for the student.
  • Discuss with the student what support they need to self-manage when they are overloaded. For example, use a break card, withdraw to a quiet space, tell the teacher they are overloaded.
  • Agree as a class: how to communicate if something is too hard, how to ask for help, how we look after our friends and recognise when they are stressed, where we can go if we are stressed.
Monitor student overload

Resources and downloads

Tiredness in deaf children

This article explains how tiredness and fatigue are common issues for deaf children. It includes tips for dealing with concentration fatigue.

The nature of learning: Using research to inspire practice

The lessons from research on the nature of learning and different educational applications are explained in this book. These are summarised through the seven key principles of learning.

Will my child get lost in an innovative learning environment?

Lynne Silcock discusses questions to consider when moving to an ILE in the CORE Education blog post.

Innovative learning environments

This Ministry of Education website explains and provides examples of all aspects of ILEs.

The impact of physical design on student outcomes

This report summarises research aimed at better understanding design features of learning spaces in the context of learning and achievement. Topics covered in this report include: lighting, heating, acoustics, indoor and outdoor spaces, and furniture considerations.

Using collaborative tools (NZ) (video)
Online tools supporting communication and collaboration

Teachers at Halswell School use Google Docs and Google Hangouts to support collaborative planning, teaching, and assessment.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Using collaborative tools (NZ)
Using Google spreadsheets (NZ) (video)
Monitoring student progress with Google sheets

In this year 4 class, planning is shared via a Google sheet with students using a “must do – can do” system. Learning goals, progress, and next steps can be viewed at any time.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Using Google spreadsheets (NZ)
Sharing information and strategies (NZ) (video)
Use your SMS to share data

Secondary school students see several teachers each day. Your school’s SMS provides a central repository for collating information, setting goals with students, and monitoring progress.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Sharing information and strategies (NZ)
Providing learning pathways (NZ) (video)
Personalising learning

The learning pathways at Ormiston Primary School are housed in a Google site. They enable students to work at their own pace and connect with teachers as they need to.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: EDtalks (NZ)

Providing learning pathways (NZ)

Resources and downloads

Easier said than done: Collaborative learning

This article explores cooperation and collaboration in the classroom.

Effective learning in classrooms

This book is about learning in classrooms, what makes learning effective, and how it may be promoted in classrooms. Chapter seven outlines collaboration and effective learning.

Collaborative teaching and learning – Part 1

Dr Julia Atkin comments on collaborative teaching and learning, and how well spaces are set up for this. One of a series of three videos.

Collaborative teaching and learning – Part 2

Dr Julia Atkin comments on the benefits of teachers working collaboratively. One of a series of three videos.

The Spiral of Inquiry framework (NZ) (video)
Planning for using digital technologies in an ILE

Using the Spiral of Inquiry framework helped Woodend School plan for using digital technologies to support learning and teaching in an ILE. 

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

The Spiral of Inquiry framework (NZ)
e-Learning mentors (NZ) (video)
Teacher inquiries focused on student needs

At Pakuranga College, teachers identify "where they are at" with using digital technologies for learning via a rubric.

e-Learning mentors support them to develop their next steps for learning.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

e-Learning mentors (NZ)
Supporting student ownership (NZ) (video)
Identify technologies that support participation and learning

When adapting or differentiating the curriculum, be careful not to unnecessarily simplify it.

Use digital technologies to support participation and personalised learning.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Supporting student ownership (NZ)
Reducing barriers to learning (NZ) (video)
Make supports available to all students

Digital technology supports are available for all students to use as needed at Wellington High School. For example, text-to-speech supports students who have difficulty reading or prefer to learn through listening.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Reducing barriers to learning (NZ)
Supporting first languages (NZ) (video)
Writing digital stories

Teacher, Bridget Harrison explains how students can use images, and their own language and experiences, to make connections and personalise their learning.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Supporting first languages (NZ)

Resources and downloads

Enabling e-Learning: Innovative learning environments

Information, practical classroom examples, and resources to support teachers transitioning into an ILE are on this Enabling e-Learning website page.

Connected Learning Advisory

The Connected Learning Advisory is a free service for schools and kura. They offer consistent, unbiased advice on integrating technology with learning to get the best results for students and communities.

Inclusive education guides for schools: Technologies

The guides in this section of the Inclusive Education website support the creation and development of an inclusive culture that recognises and meets the needs of all students through the use of technologies that support student learning, communication, and collaboration.

The Virtual Learning Network (VLN)

The VLN is an online community of over 10,000 teachers sharing ideas. There are more than 300 groups, including groups for IPads/iPod users, Google Apps in Education, Universal Design for Learning, Chromebook users, and BYOD.

Assistive technology’s blogs

A regular tech blog with the latest product information and featuring a range of resources and information in discussion-like forum on the Virtual Learning Network.

Recognise learner differences (image)
Students working in multimedia lab
Understanding how students learn best

"The development of ILEs must be grounded in knowledge about how people learn and the circumstances in which they do this most powerfully."

OECD (2015), Schooling redesigned: Towards innovative learning systems

Source: Ministry of Education

Recognise learner differences
Understand the need for flexibility

… learners differ markedly in the ways in which they can be engaged or motivated to learn …

Some learners are highly engaged by spontaneity and novelty, while others are disengaged, even frightened, by those aspects, preferring strict routine. Some learners might like to work alone, while others prefer to work with their peers.

In reality, there is not one means of engagement that will be optimal for all learners in all contexts; providing multiple options for engagement is essential.

National Center on Universal Design for Learning – Principle III

Source: Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium
Understand the need for flexibility
Know your learners (NZ) (video)
Plan for flexibility

Seek out and understand students’ motivations, values, and needs as learners to inform learning approaches.

Create spaces that are flexible and respectful of individual differences.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Know your learners (NZ)
Identify barriers to learning (image)
Potential barriers to learning and solutions
Provide options and supports

Ask students experiencing barriers to learning about options and supports that would be useful.

Build these strategies into your environment and offer them to everyone.

Source: Ministry of Education

Identify barriers to learning
Plan for diversity (image)
3 principles of UDL based on the work of CAST Center of Applied Special Technologies
Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

UDL helps teachers plan for the diversity in their classrooms. It supports flexible design that provides options for learners and removes hidden barriers.

More information in the UDL guide.

Source: Adapted from CAST UDL

Plan for diversity

Resources and downloads

Effective learning in classrooms

This book is about learning in classrooms, what makes learning effective, and how it may be promoted in classrooms. Chapter seven outlines collaboration and effective learning.

Learning environments, belonging and inclusion

This CORE Education white paper explores ways in which a well-designed and thoughtfully implemented physical learning environment can foster a sense of belonging in learners, in turn contributing to their well-being, and ultimately to their educational success.

Creating classroom routines and procedures

A visual and audio tour of 16 classroom across the US. The slides offer practical examples of classroom routines and procedures, with links to resources.

The impact of physical design on student outcomes

This report summarises research aimed at better understanding design features of learning spaces in the context of learning and achievement. Topics covered in this report include: lighting, heating, acoustics, indoor and outdoor spaces, and furniture considerations.

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Designing and configuring flexible learning spaces to support the full participation and engagement of all students

A flexible learning space will work well for everyone only if it is designed to do so. Design a plan from the outset that includes all students, particularly those experiencing barriers to learning.

Place students at the centre of design and planning.

  • Consult with students, teachers, parents and whānau, and specialists.
  • Identify learning needs and preferences.
  • Design flexible spaces to meet those needs, and future needs.

Source: Ministry of Education (NZ)

Closed captioning available in player

Suggestions and resources

Design adaptable spaces (image)
classroom simulator2
Inclusive design

Design spaces that support flexible teaching approaches that meet the sensory, mobility, learning, and cultural needs of all students.

Expand the hotspots on the High School Classroom simulator.

Source: Maryland Learning Links

Design adaptable spaces
Enable student choice (NZ) (video)
Provide students with structure and choice

Students at Halswell School describe how they use different spaces and why they choose to work in them.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Enable student choice (NZ)
Caves, watering holes, and campfires (NZ) (video)
Design spaces for specific purposes

Provide flexible spaces students can re-arrange for different purposes to meet their needs.

Stephen Collis describes organising physical and virtual caves, watering holes, and campfires.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Caves, watering holes, and campfires (NZ)
Working in different groupings

Larger, open learning spaces provide the flexibility to work in different groupings

  1. Students can learn collectively and can easily come together in larger groups for activities such as kapa haka and waiata.

  2. Open learning spaces support tuakana-teina relationships between students and teachers.

  3. Students can work in separate spaces that are quiet and have low stimulus.

  4. Multiple groupings within open learning spaces support different teacher locations within the room and increase discursive teaching practice, which is linked to higher Māori student achievement.

  5. Orient spaces to receive good sunlight – natural light is linked to increased student achievement and Tamanui-te-rā (the sun) is important in the whakapapa of Māori culture.

Source: Māui whakakau, kura whakakau: Teaching and learning environments to support priority learners, Ministry of Education

Working in different groupings
Outside spaces

Create visual and tactile landmarks to support student orientation when working and moving in and around outdoor spaces.

In your design, consider:

  1. coloured or tactile pathways for moving between buildings

  2. sculptures or cultural artifacts to act as keys to locations and spatial mapping of areas

  3. safe spaces where students can seek support from a peer or an adult

  4. using clear, high contrasting signage to identify buildings

  5. naming and attaching visuals to buildings, so that students can easily identify spaces.

Outside spaces

Resources and downloads

Flexible learning spaces: How the design of spaces can help student achievement

This factsheet is a quick guide for schools, family/whānau, and communities creating a flexible learning space. It provides a starting point for the design of your space, and outlines the most important things to consider for your students, teachers, and community.

Learning space toolkit

A resource for designing and sustaining technology-rich informal learning spaces. It contains tools and resources for planning holistically and making connections between: identified needs and proposed solutions; the space, furniture, technology, and services; related or adjacent spaces; the key stakeholders involved in planning and implementing a learning space.

21st Century learning environments

The design of flexible learning spaces is explored using case studies from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK, and the US. This OECD report covers designing schools in a changing world, technology, the design process, and sustainable and quality design.

Innovative learning environments: CORE white paper

The design of inclusive ILEs is considered in this white paper by Mark Osborne of CORE Education.

Accessibility principles

The Barrier Free New Zealand Trust website provides a framework and mechanism for creating barrier-free and universally usable built environments and for implementing effective access for people with disabilities.

Design standards for school property

All school building projects must comply with legal and Ministry design standards, and should follow best practice standards for school building projects.

Flexible learning spaces: Making spaces work for everyone

Flexible learning spaces can support a diverse range of students. This factsheet offers things to consider for students that require additional physical or learning support, and also helps schools create flexible learning spaces with Māori and Pasifika learners in mind.

The impact of physical design on student outcomes

This report summarises research aimed at better understanding design features of learning spaces in the context of learning and achievement. Topics covered in this report include: lighting, heating, acoustics, indoor and outdoor spaces, and furniture considerations.

Culturally located learning spaces (video)
Plan spaces where students feel culturally connected

Janelle Riki talks about the value of creating spaces where students can learn through and about their culture, including spaces for preparing and sharing kai, overnight stays, and kapa haka.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: EDtalks

Culturally located learning spaces
Visibly value students’ cultural backgrounds (image)
File 000 1
Create a sense of belonging

Visually reflect the different cultures of your school community within the environment through language, signs, and images. Create a sense of shared ownership by involving the school community in creating these.

Source: Kelston School

Visibly value students’ cultural backgrounds
Spaces for whānau

Connecting with families

Ongoing whānau and community involvement is extremely important for supporting students’ learning.

Support whānau to engage with the school by having spaces that they can access within the school – for example, a whānau room where families can meet with teachers, wait for their children, have a cup of tea or coffee, and access the Internet.

Source: Māui whakakau, kura whakakau: Teaching and learning environments to support priority learners

Spaces for whānau
DeafSpace (video)
Design to include Deaf culture

Vision and touch are the primary means of spatial awareness and orientation for Deaf students.
Design and plan your space to include students who are Deaf and hard of hearing.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Derrick Behm (US)

DeafSpace
Strengthen design through partnership (image)
NZC Scenario 65 Treaty 12
Whānau comes first

Māori cultural practices value welcoming visitors and making them feel at home. Early engagement with the community ensures appropriate protocols are considered in the design.

Māui whakakau, kura whakakau – the impact of physical design on Māori and Pasifika student outcomes provides a starting point for schools to develop the cultural inclusivity of their physical environment.

Source: Ministry of Education

Strengthen design through partnership

Resources and downloads

Māui whakakau, kura whakakau: The impact of physical design on Māori and Pasifika student outcomes

This report provides a starting point for schools to develop the cultural inclusivity of their physical environment. It focuses on the features of school design that demonstrate to Māori and Pasifika students the value placed on their identity, language, and culture.

Flexible learning spaces: How the design of spaces can help student achievement

This factsheet is a quick guide for schools, family/whānau, and communities creating a flexible learning space. It provides a starting point for the design of your space, and outlines the most important things to consider for your students, teachers, and community.

Māui whakakau, kura whakakau: Teaching and learning environments to support priority learners

This Ministry of Education guide provides practical suggestions for those involved in the visioning and design of school facilities for Māori and Pasifika students.

Learning environments, belonging and inclusion

This CORE Education white paper explores ways in which a well-designed and thoughtfully implemented physical learning environment can foster a sense of belonging in learners, in turn contributing to their well-being, and ultimately to their educational success.

Ka Hikitia: Accelerating Success 2013–2017

This is a strategy for action to make a significant difference for Māori students in education for the next five years and beyond.

Flexible learning spaces: Making spaces work for everyone

Flexible learning spaces can support a diverse range of students. This factsheet offers things to consider for students that require additional physical or learning support, and also helps schools create flexible learning spaces with Māori and Pasifika learners in mind.

The impact of physical design on student outcomes

This report summarises research aimed at better understanding design features of learning spaces in the context of learning and achievement. Topics covered in this report include: lighting, heating, acoustics, indoor and outdoor spaces, and furniture considerations.

What makes a safe school? (video)
Personal perspectives

Young people discuss what makes school safe or unsafe, and how we can create a place where we all belong. They encourage schools to take a norm-challenging pedagogical approach.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Inside Out Rainbow Youth

What makes a safe school?
Safety policies

We have a policy of safety around identity and culture, and that includes gender. We feel strongly that every child deserves to feel safe in the school environment.

Board Chair ; Source: New Zealand Herald, 16 May, 2016
Safety policies
Design safe, accessible personal spaces (video)
Unisex toilets and bathrooms

Stephen Heppell talks about the design of personal spaces, such as toilets and bathrooms. He urges schools to begin design considerations in consultation with students.

View transcript

Source: EDtalks

Design safe, accessible personal spaces
Understand threats to wellbeing (image)
DSC 0569
Identifying discrimination

“Some students are not going to the toilet all day because they don't feel safe using school bathrooms.”
Rainbow YOUTH education director, Aych McArdle

Source: Ministry of Education

Understand threats to wellbeing
Questions for reflection

Supporting feelings of wellbeing and safety should be central to the design of an ILE

  1. Where are the areas in the school where students feel unsafe or where they would like to feel more safe? Have students map or photograph these places.

  2. How can we repurpose bullying hotspots, such as hallways or walkways between buildings?

  3. What kinds of spaces increase feelings of safety and wellbeing?

  4. What kinds of signage demonstrate respect for gender diversity?

  5. What changes can we make to school protocols and organisation, such as uniform choices and sports groupings, to increase options for students?

Questions for reflection

Resources and downloads

Flexible learning spaces: How the design of spaces can help student achievement

This factsheet is a quick guide for schools, family/whānau, and communities creating a flexible learning space. It provides a starting point for the design of your space, and outlines the most important things to consider for your students, teachers, and community.

Wellbeing for young people's success at secondary school

This Education Review Office (ERO) report presents the findings of an evaluation of how well 68 secondary schools promoted and responded to student wellbeing in 2014.

Bullying prevention and response: A guide for schools

This guide supports schools to create safe and positive learning environments. It aims to help prevent bullying behaviour and provides practical advice on what to do when bullying occurs. It also includes a section on whole-school approaches.

Flexible learning spaces: Making spaces work for everyone

Flexible learning spaces can support a diverse range of students. This factsheet offers things to consider for students that require additional physical or learning support, and also helps schools create flexible learning spaces with Māori and Pasifika learners in mind.

The impact of physical design on student outcomes

This report summarises research aimed at better understanding design features of learning spaces in the context of learning and achievement. Topics covered in this report include: lighting, heating, acoustics, indoor and outdoor spaces, and furniture considerations.

Reduce physical barriers (image)
A wide ramp at Silverstream School
Universally design access points

From the outset, build ramps to support equitable and predictable access to different environments, internal and external.

Wide ramps and double doors ensure easy access for all.

Source: Ministry of Education

Reduce physical barriers
Future-proof equitable access

Plan for the diverse mobility needs of your learners and your community from the outset

Key considerations should include:

  • unisex accessible toilets, positioned around the school for both adults and children
  • outdoor play areas designed for students of varying sizes and weights, that can be accessed by students using wheelchairs or other mobility aids
  • adjustable working surfaces, such as lab stations, desks, and workbenches, that students can adjust to the height required 
  • an area with no curbing for pick-up and drop-off 
  • vertical access to all areas of the school, supported by ramps and if needed, lifts 
  • motion-sensitive main entrance doors
  • a low front desk in the reception area where children and people with wheelchairs can easily be seen and welcomed
  • corridors and doorways that are wide enough for wheelchair users
  • height of windows and windows in doors, enabling wheelchair users to see through.

Source: Teaching and learning environments to support students with special education needs or disabilities, Ministry of Education.

Future-proof equitable access
Maintain predictable pathways (image)
Stonefields need permission
Ensure accessible pathways for everyone

Maintain predictable, accessible pathways for circulation within and between learning spaces.

Consider those with visual and mobility needs.

Source: Stonefields School

Maintain predictable pathways
Support access and engagement (image)
Copy of DSC 0528 1
Optimise conditions for visual communication

Consider window shades, lighting, and seating to optimise conditions for visual communication. Use diffused lighting to reduce glare and eyestrain.

Source: Ministry of Education

Support access and engagement
Ease of movement (image)
Copy of IMG 3687
Design to meet mobility needs

Smooth surfaces, ramps, and the width of corridors and doorways are especially important for wheelchair users. These design features support parents pushing buggies and moving equipment easily.

Source: Ministry of Education

Ease of movement

Resources and downloads

Innovative learning environments: CORE white paper

The design of inclusive ILEs is considered in this white paper by Mark Osborne of CORE Education.

Innovative learning environment assessment tool: Version 1.1 (MOE NZ)

This online tool for assessing school property is a support for prioritising upgrade work, including upgrading spaces to meet the Designing Quality Learning Spaces (DQLS) Guidelines. This is a Ministry of Education tool.

Innovative learning environments

This Ministry of Education website explains and provides examples of all aspects of ILEs.

Accessibility principles

The Barrier Free New Zealand Trust website provides a framework and mechanism for creating barrier-free and universally usable built environments and for implementing effective access for people with disabilities.

Designing quality learning spaces in schools

This Ministry of Education webpage provides links to the designing quality learning spaces (DQLS) guidelines for acoustics; air quality; heating, temperature and insulation; and lighting. Use these guidelines to become familiar with the minimum design standards expected by the Ministry, and to brief consultants and tradespeople on your requirements when planning upgrades. The guidelines are downloadable PDFs.

Flexible learning spaces: Making spaces work for everyone

Flexible learning spaces can support a diverse range of students. This factsheet offers things to consider for students that require additional physical or learning support, and also helps schools create flexible learning spaces with Māori and Pasifika learners in mind.

The impact of physical design on student outcomes

This report summarises research aimed at better understanding design features of learning spaces in the context of learning and achievement. Topics covered in this report include: lighting, heating, acoustics, indoor and outdoor spaces, and furniture considerations.

Create calm spaces (image)
Student working in a quiet space
Involve students in planning quiet, safe spaces

When students become overwhelmed by the sensory stimuli in the classroom, they need a safe, quiet space to retreat, calm, and organise themselves.

Source: Mark Osborne, CORE Education

Create calm spaces
Tools for releasing tension

Movement often reduces tension and assists concentration. Regular breaks throughout the day, supported by sensory tools, help students to stay focused and calm the nervous system.

Identify with students a range of equipment they would like to use in their ILE.

Suggestions:

  • swiss balls
  • ergonomic chairs
  • adjustable seating
  • equipment, such as bean bags, stress balls, fidget toys
  • height-adjustable tables
  • noise-reducing headphones.
Tools for releasing tension
Plan lighting to create comfortable spaces

Use natural and artificial light effectively to create physically and emotionally comfortable spaces

When selecting lighting and organising its placement, consider the specific needs of your students.

  1. The location of interior and exterior windows can be distracting for students with ASD, ADHD and Down syndrome.

  2. Shadows and glare on whiteboards and screens can be visually distracting for all students, particularly those who are Deaf, hard of hearing, or have low vision.

  3. High levels of illumination can be over stimulating. Dimming switches or blinds help to reduce discomfort.

  4. Some fluorescent lighting systems emit a constant noise (up to 60dB), causing difficulty for students who are hard of hearing. Housing the lighting system above the acoustical-tile ceiling reduces the amount of noise.

  5. Place window shades, lighting, and seating to optimise visual communication.

Source: Ministry of Education (2007) Designing Quality Learning Spaces: Lighting

Plan lighting to create comfortable spaces
Support listening and communication

Listening is critical to language acquisition and learning

Design classroom acoustics to reduce reverberation and other sources of background noise. This supports students who have difficulties hearing and processing language as a result of Otitis Media (glue ear), auditory processing difficulties, attention difficulties, English as second language, and permanent hearing loss.

The acoustic design of the classroom affects the intelligibility of speech through reverberation (echoes) and the absorption of sound. You can monitor classroom sound levels using a safe sound indicator. Ensure your design meets DQLS standards for acoustics.

Plan to minimise background noise:

  • inside the classroom (such as the noise of computers, heating and ventilation systems, fish tanks, and students in the classroom)
  • outside the classroom (such as traffic noise, playground noise, noise from other classrooms, rain).

Consider assistive listening systems, such as sound loops and soundfield systems.

Source: Report of FM Soundfield Study, Paremata School 1997

Support listening and communication
Provide a range of sensory supports

Involve students in planning the supports they need, for example students with ASD, FASD, Down syndrome.

  1. Include sensory supports such as blankets, familiar objects, music, or soothing sounds.

  2. Support clear routines and systems using visual timetables.

  3. Present instructions in more than one way.

  4. Label key areas of the environment with visuals and text.

  5. Use charts, visual calendars, colour-coded schedules, visible timers, and visual cues to increase predictability of regular activities, and transitions between environments and activities.

  6. Offer ear protection or noise-cancelling headphones. 

  7. Use flexible timetabling to break up tasks. 

  8. Make calming spaces available to students when they are overwhelmed by sensory stimuli. Support students in how to use these spaces.

Provide a range of sensory supports

Resources and downloads

Optimal learning spaces: Design implications for primary schools

This report from the Salford Centre for Research and Innovation aims to help schools to create learning environments that are more effective and comfortable. It provides in-depth and practical suggestions for improving the quality of learning environments.

Innovative learning environments: CORE white paper

The design of inclusive ILEs is considered in this white paper by Mark Osborne of CORE Education.

Teaching and learning environments: Impact on student engagement and achievement

A summary of research aimed at better understanding design features of flexible learning spaces in the context of learning and achievement. It is intended as a guide for those involved in the visioning and design stages of a school building.

Avoiding sensory overload at school

This chapter from the book, Raising a Sensory Smart Child, by Lindsay Biel and Nancy Peske offers practical suggestions to reduce sensory overload in the classroom.

Tiredness in deaf children

This article explains how tiredness and fatigue are common issues for deaf children. It includes tips for dealing with concentration fatigue.

Assistive listening systems: A guide for architects and consultants

An assistive listening system is a wireless link directly between the sound source and the hearing impaired person. The direct link to the listener eliminates the effects of background noise and reverberation, providing some amplification and improving clarity. The three types of systems: electromagnetic loop, infrared communication, FM radio communication are described and reviewed.

Designing quality learning spaces in schools

This Ministry of Education webpage provides links to the designing quality learning spaces (DQLS) guidelines for acoustics; air quality; heating, temperature and insulation; and lighting. Use these guidelines to become familiar with the minimum design standards expected by the Ministry, and to brief consultants and tradespeople on your requirements when planning upgrades. The guidelines are downloadable PDFs.

Flexible learning spaces: Making spaces work for everyone

Flexible learning spaces can support a diverse range of students. This factsheet offers things to consider for students that require additional physical or learning support, and also helps schools create flexible learning spaces with Māori and Pasifika learners in mind.

Plan for wellbeing (image)
Diagram illustrating te whare tapa whā model
Te Whare Tapa Whā

Consider the Te Whare Tapa Whā concept of hauora when designing your FLS. Provide support for the physical, spiritual, emotional, social, environmental, and relational elements that determine the well-being of individuals and groups.

Source: Ministry of Education

Plan for wellbeing
Create a safe environment (video)
Students map bully zones to create a safer school

In a US high school, students mapped their school, identifying spaces where bullying took place. Consider using this approach to inform the design of your new FLS.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Not In Our Town (US)

Create a safe environment
Highlighting difference is risky

Children and parents describe structural arrangements in the school or classroom that highlight difference as a thing that contributes to some students being seen as different, and bullied.

Source: Springboards 2 Practice: Enhancing effective practice in education. MacArthur & Gaffney, 2001
Highlighting difference is risky
Reduce anxiety (NZ) (video)
Moving to different spaces can trigger anxiety

Support student wellbeing and lessen the stress of moving into new spaces by transferring specific furniture or items of importance to the learner.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Reduce anxiety (NZ)
Create structure

Reduce student anxiety by providing familiar supports

Organise the environment to minimise students’ cognitive load. Include students in the design process and agree support for students’ specific needs so they can work more independently and regulate their emotions.

  • Provide landmarks so students can orientate themselves to areas within the school.
  • Use colour to highlight learning areas and draw attention to important information.
  • Use colour, visuals, and words to label organisation systems within the learning space.
  • Develop spaces with a consistent layout.
  • Enable students to personalise areas.
  • Design spaces that allow for quiet withdrawal.
Create structure

Resources and downloads

Wellbeing for children’s success at primary school

Findings from ERO’s evaluation of how well 159 schools with students in years 1–8 promoted and responded to student wellbeing in term one 2014.

Wellbeing for young people's success at secondary school

This Education Review Office (ERO) report presents the findings of an evaluation of how well 68 secondary schools promoted and responded to student wellbeing in 2014.

Learning starts in the brain

Karen Spencer explains in this blog post the importance of learners feeling a sense of belonging, emotional recognition, and cultural familiarity before they can engage in learning.

Teaching and learning environments: Impact on student engagement and achievement

A summary of research aimed at better understanding design features of flexible learning spaces in the context of learning and achievement. It is intended as a guide for those involved in the visioning and design stages of a school building.

Wellbeing for success: a resource for schools

This Education Review Office (ERO) resource has been developed to help schools evaluate and improve student well-being. It highlights the need for systems, people, and initiatives to respond to wellbeing concerns for students who need additional support.

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Involving students in planning and preparing for the transition to an FLS

Change can be difficult for all learners, particularly those with ASD, ADHD, Down syndrome, FASD, visual impairments, and audio processing disorders (APD). Visit and re-visit the new space and new routines to ensure a successful transition.

Source: Ministry of Education (NZ)

Students from Te Waka Unua School visit Halswell School to see their new design and gather ideas for their own learning spaces.

Suggestions and resources

Preparing for change (image)
Students sharing a story
Regularly discuss the upcoming change

Create a book, PowerPoint presentation, or video showing new spaces for students. Include things students may be concerned about, such as where to hang bags, where they can sit, and quiet spaces.

Source: Enabling e-Learning

Preparing for change
Visual timeline (image)
Timeline of ILE development
Support students to prepare for change

Create and refer regularly to a visual timeline showing the dates and steps to prepare for change. Have the students most anxious about the change be responsible for the countdown.

Timeline tools provides a selection of online tools.

Source: Ministry of Education

Visual timeline
Visit the new space regularly
  1. Arrange for students to visit the new spaces on several occasions before moving in.

  2. Show photographs or videos of the new spaces and talk about what will happen in them.

  3. Prepare a scrapbook on the new space for students to familiarise themselves with how it looks, and where they can work in the space.

  4. Discuss any concerns the students may have about the move and address these directly.

  5. Use social stories to practice routines, systems, and ways of working.

  6. Visit locations in the new space that may be different to the current classroom space (for example, work spaces, the gymnasium, the cloakroom).

Visit the new space regularly
Practise using FLS prior to moving (NZ) (video)
Creating FLS from single cell classrooms

Lucy Fong explains how her team converted single cell classrooms to flexible learning spaces. They trialled different uses of space prior to building their new FLS.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Practise using FLS prior to moving (NZ)

Resources and downloads

Effective learning in classrooms

This book is about learning in classrooms, what makes learning effective, and how it may be promoted in classrooms. Chapter seven outlines collaboration and effective learning.

Transfer familiar systems

Before we came into the ILE, we looked around for management systems and programmes that we could use in this environment that would help with the transition.

One that we found was called “The Daily Five” and that really helped with the transition because we had something that was familiar to the children coming in. They knew exactly how to do it and it just worked really beautifully coming in here as well.

Gabrielle Nuthall, Halswell School ;

Source: Transition to an innovative learning environment

Transfer familiar systems
Build learner agency (video)
Set up systems that scaffold students

Set up systems that support students to manage their own learning before moving into the new learning space.

Provide visual supports and structured choices for students that need support.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Build learner agency
Collaborative learning (image)
Two diagrams depicting student cooperation and collaboration
Practise working together

Practise how to cooperate and work collaboratively. Identify what works for your students. Focus on noticing and responding appropriately to individual differences.

Source: Adapted from Effective Learning in Classrooms

Collaborative learning
Flexible timetabling at secondary school (video)
Timetabling flexibility

Students are given agency to support successful learning through a flexible learning system where they can add more time into the subject areas they need support with at Parkland School Division High School.

View transcript

Source: Parkland School Division (US)

Flexible timetabling at secondary school
Scaffold students to manage learning (NZ) (video)
Provide tools to support students

Daniel and his teacher talk about how having a “must-do/can-do” list and an iPad enables him to have ownership and control over his learning.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Scaffold students to manage learning (NZ)

Resources and downloads

Effective learning in classrooms

This book is about learning in classrooms, what makes learning effective, and how it may be promoted in classrooms. Chapter seven outlines collaboration and effective learning.

Waitākiri School – Leading collaborative practice

Principal, Neill O’Reilly describes in this PowerPoint the building blocks of collaborative practice that are essential to the new learning approaches that are being implemented in Waitākiri School.

Involve students in making decisions (NZ) (video)
Student inquiry into ILE

Year 7 and 8 students at Woodend School describe how their inquiry into an ILE led to setting up systems and routines that worked for them in their new space.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Involve students in making decisions (NZ)
Partner with students (NZ) (video)
Students identify how they learn best

South New Brighton School teachers involved students in the design of their collaborative space. Students advised on tools and spaces to support their learning.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Partner with students (NZ)
Establishing routines (image)
Teacher displaying daily timetable on the whiteboard
Meeting students’ preferences

Establish routines with students based on meeting their needs and preferences. Build in flexibility at the outset and provide scaffolds to give students as much autonomy as possible.

Source: Ministry of Education

Establishing routines
Supporting student agency

Teaching students to be independent and self-directed learners needs to be at the centre of a successful ILE and this does not happen overnight. It requires scaffolds, stepping-stones and a safe environment.

Source: Karen Boyes
Supporting student agency

Resources and downloads

Modern learning environments – the underlying philosophy to success

Karen Boyes discusses in this blog post the pedagogical shift required when moving into an innovative learning environment and offers suggestions for supporting students in these spaces.

Five free tools to collect student feedback

A set of online tools to support student feedback.

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Involving parents and whānau in planning and preparing for the transition to an FLS

Partner with parents and whānau to support students to transition successfully into the new environment. Plan approaches to learning, systems, and routines with the needs of individual learners, particularly those who experience challenges, in mind.

Parents, Dayna and Phil share the benefits of ongoing conversations supporting a successful transition for their daughter into an ILE.

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Closed captioning available in player

Suggestions and resources

Identify community needs (NZ) (video)
Design based on community input

Halswell School involved the community from the outset in developing their ILE. Parent input was sought and fed into the architect’s design brief.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ

Identify community needs (NZ)
Communication approaches

Use a range of communication options

  1. Welcome parents, whānau, and teachers to regular shared breakfasts in the staffroom to discuss ideas, concerns and updates.

  2. Have an open-door policy, where parents and whānau are welcome to visit classes at any time and sit in on the learning.

  3. Plan and advertise specific open-classroom days when parents and whānau are welcome to chat to students about their thoughts and experiences of working in an ILE.

  4. Include regular updates and information explaining the changes in your newsletters.

  5. Develop a FAQ webpage, where all the questions people have asked are collated and responses to each one are added.

  6. Plan multiple parent evening meetings.

Source: Enabling e-Learning

Communication approaches
Parent workshops

When we started our ILE journey, we had lots of questions from parents about what it was, what it would mean, and how it would work. We held a number of parent workshops and meetings to talk it all through. We also made some videos for those who weren't able to come to the meetings.

Source: Pegasus Bay School
Parent workshops
Virtual tour (NZ) (video)
Virtual tour of Pegasus Bay School

A virtual tour of your learning spaces provides a visual for parents and students to familiarise themselves with the layout and purposes of the new spaces.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Pegasus Bay School (NZ)

Virtual tour (NZ)
Communicate regularly (NZ) (video)
Regular communication builds understanding

Parent, Kirsten explains, “Leah felt that Linda was including us. It wasn’t just she went to school and was in a classroom for 5 hours. She knew that Linda was talking to us.”

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos

Communicate regularly (NZ)

Resources and downloads

Connecting learning and the community

Teacher, Nicki Fielder and students from Apiti School explain the different social media tools they use to connect with parents and the wider community.

The Manaiakalani schools partnering with the parent community

The Manaiakalani cluster share their journey, key lessons, videos, and resources on this webpage

Engage parents early on

Research shows that schools that involve their communities and involve their parents are far more successful, so early on we deliberately set about a process of involving the parents in the quality schools project. This included parent evening meetings and bringing parents to the school to have a look at what was happening in the classroom.

Source: Des Hedley, Principal, Springlands School
Engage parents early on
Make learning visible

Provide opportunities for parents to see what learning looks like and engage them early in the process.

  1. Plan open evenings and walk-throughs.

  2. Create an online space, such as a blog or a page on your school website, which is frequently updated with information, images, and video explaining your ILE.

  3. Provide multiple opportunities for parents and the community to discuss, ask questions, observe, experience, and explore ideas.

  4. Provide multiple ways for parents to ask questions (for example, emails, surveys, blog comments, and face-to-face meetings).

  5. Provide opportunities for parents to see how ILEs work in other schools. Invite other schools in to share their practice, share videos, and research.

  6. Provide opportunities for parents to learn about and use new technologies.

  7. Share examples of timetables and ask for parent feedback.

  8. Explain the physical organisation of the school – focusing specifically on how learners with diverse needs are planned for and supported.

  9. Explain the layout of classroom spaces and how these cater for the differing needs of students.

Make learning visible
Create a factsheet (image)
A graphic fact sheet showing how new spaces will be used
Communicate how your FLS works

Create a fact sheet explaining how spaces will be used for learning. Display this around the school and send it to parents.

Source: Ministry of Education

Create a factsheet
Teach parents to use online tools

Parents were trained in how to use Moodle at home, since students would need to use it when responding to questions and completing assignments.

Parents were taught how to monitor their child’s responses, and how to work with them on assignments.

Source: OECD (2013), Educational Research and Innovation: Innovative Learning Environments (pp. 140–143).
Teach parents to use online tools
Partner with parents

Learning partnerships are strengthened when parents can work with the school for the benefit of their child.

Parents:

  • appreciate having their views about their child listened to
  • value ongoing opportunities to discuss their child’s progress and achievement
  • believe it helps when programmes are well matched to their child’s needs and any homework given is appropriate to their child’s abilities.

Source: Partners in learning: Parents' voices (September 2008)

Partner with parents

Resources and downloads

Manaiakalani whanau

A web page for Manaiakalani Schools providing whānau information, resources, and links to home and school partnerships.

Code of ethics for certificated teachers

The code of ethics outlines expectations for teachers includes: commitment to learners, commitment to parents/guardians and family/whānau, commitment to society, and commitment to the teaching profession.

Listen to families (NZ) (video)
Home-school connections provide continuity

Parents, Dayna and Phil, found sharing successful approaches and incorporating their daughter’s interests reduced anxiety and provided consistency between home and school.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Listen to families (NZ)
Value parental knowledge

 Invite families to share approaches that are successful at home to build continuity and strengthen engagement and learning approaches.

  1. Consider furniture options and physical supports that work well (for example, chairs, table heights).

  2. Assimilate known interests, such as favourite colours, sports, and music, into the class.

  3. Identify successful calming strategies and replicate these (for example, objects, cushions, dark spaces).

  4. Align eating and personal routines with what happens at home.

  5. Consider visuals that can be used both at home and school to support understanding.

  6. Invite families to bring objects and items from home that are meaningful and offer support for their children.

  7. Engage in conversations to identify potential barriers and ask families for solutions based on their personal experiences and expertise.

  8. Use phrases and communication techniques that are effective and successful at home.

Value parental knowledge
Utilise parent expertise (NZ) (video)
Parents share their design expertise

Nina and Melanie designed and purpose-built furniture for Waimairi School. They explain the importance testing furniture in spaces.

Part of a longer video on developing FLS.

View transcript

Source: Ministry of Education (NZ)

Utilise parent expertise (NZ)
Work with local iwi

Early engagement ensured the appropriate protocols were considered, including blessing prior to works commencing, relationship/orientation of spaces, reference to mana, whenua narratives through the design of the whare, and pōwhiri for welcoming all new students and other formal occasions.

Source: Case study: Alfriston College, Manurewa, Auckland
Work with local iwi
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Building a world-leading education system that equips all New Zealanders with the knowledge, skills, and values to be successful citizens in the 21st century.