Date
17 July 2024

Design responsive physical environments

Prepare physical and virtual environments for flexibility and personalisation.

Design for all from the outset

Design for all from the outset

A learning space will only work well for everyone if it is designed to do so. Design with ākonga, whānau and the wider team to consider multiple perspectives that may influence belonging, learning and behaviour.

Considerations might include:

  • Flexible spaces which provide a variety of seating, desk and space options to support different types of teaching and learning.
  • Honouring Te Tiriti and visibly valuing te ao Māori, for example, using te reo Māori, dual language texts, and Māori contexts and images. 
  • Making values and high expectations visible to students, for example, displaying the school values and ways to show those values.
  • Sensory needs, such as lighting, noise, visual clutter, and sensory supports such as blankets, familiar objects, music, or soothing sounds. 
  • Valuing diversity, for example, visuals and resources that celebrate different ways of being.
  • Gender and sexuality, for example signage, toilets and bathrooms.
  • Mobility, for example, visual and physical pathways, smooth surfaces and ramps that promote ease of movement.
  • Wellbeing and belonging, for example, use the Te Whare Tapa Whā model for supporting the physical, spiritual, emotional, social, environmental, and relational elements of hauora.

Knowledge of students influences design decisions

Knowledge of students influences design decisions

Anita Patel describes how UDL thinking has influenced her practice.

Create calm spaces

Create calm spaces

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

Design outside spaces

Design outside spaces

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

In your design, consider:

  • coloured or tactile pathways for moving between buildings
  • sculptures or cultural artifacts to act as keys to locations and spatial mapping of areas
  • safe spaces where students can seek support from a peer or an adult
  • using clear, high contrasting signage to identify buildings
  • naming and attaching visuals to buildings, so that students can easily identify spaces.

Develop inclusive classroom environments

Develop inclusive classroom environments

Justine Henderson from Berhampore School talks about how they have designed a flexible classroom that is responsive to varying student needs.

Visibly value students’ cultural backgrounds

Visibly value students’ cultural backgrounds

Visually reflect the different cultures of your school community in your environment through language, signs, and images.

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Design learning for all”:

Return to the guide “Behaviour and learning”

Guide to Index of the guide: Behaviour and learning

Strategies for action:

Top