The Forest High School
This case study showcases how this school has embraced and embedded future-focused learning and teaching practice. Four key questions are addressed to demonstrate how they identified problems and constraints, overcome specific challenges and their learnings from this journey.
Location: 135 Frenchs Forest Rd, Frenchs Forest
Level: Secondary School, Year 7 to Year 12
Enrolment: 853 students
What learning problem were you trying to solve?
The Forest High School recognised a need for flexible learning spaces for both students and teachers. There has been a focus on developing and utilising 21st Century teaching and learning activities at the school and we needed learning areas which are not restricted by the constraints of traditional classrooms. The team responsible for developing the new learning centres consulted with student and teacher focus groups and ensured that the design of each space was grounded in educational research. The interactive technology and modular furniture ensures a flexible layout to serve the purposes of each class and is designed to promote collaborative learning. Additionally, these rooms are regularly and effectively utilised for in-house professional development for all staff.
What were your constraints?
- Space – it was difficult to find appropriate spaces to transform within the school.
- Equity – rather than develop an existing classroom, we redesigned the library to ensure that all KLAs and students could access the space.
- Furniture – existing furniture lacked flexibility.
What did you do?
- Formed a team to oversee research, design and development.
- Consulted with students and staff.
- Identified under-utilised spaces such as the common room and library.
- Researched and decided upon an adaptation of the 'mythic notions of the campfire … the watering hole … and the cave'.
- Researched effective designs for contemporary and flexible classroom layouts which promote collaborative learning. Visited various schools, libraries and universities.
- Carefully planned and managed the build to reduce costs where possible.
- Overall cost $186,000 from school funds, which included refurbishing the space, furniture and technology.
What have you learnt so far?
There has been a marked change in student attitude and application when they work in the learning centre. Student feedback has been extremely positive and they feel that the environment is inspiring and fosters creativity.
Teachers and students make use of the flexibility of the space for effective breakaway group activities and independent learning. However, we have noted a need to remind some older students how to work effectively in groups as they are now re-engaging with project-based learning.
The learning centre is constantly booked out and we have already begun the construction of a new one.