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Tuesday, 29 August 1972
Page: 774


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock (LYNE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -

6.01 OPEN SPACE LEARNING AREAS

The sponsoring department has requested that these schools be planned and designed on the open plan' principle. The educational theory and practice underlying this approach to primary school planning is the educators' need for a physical environment in which teaching can proceed flexibly and which can be readily and quickly adapted to different kinds of teaching and learning situations.

Traditionally schools have consisted of a collection of similar sized classrooms designed to cater for similar sized groups of children in care of one teacher. The 'open plan' concept is a different kind of school in which the space can either be used as a whole for large group instruction or subdivided and arranged as required to cater for individual study or group work. In it children may move easily from large to small groups or to individual study and the teachers also move around to assist individuals or groups rather than teach in front of the children. By innovative arrangement the plan developed for these schools allows for change in the composition of these groups and the open spaces have been designed to permit one area to expand into another without subdivision, or to contract into a number of smaller units.

The atmosphere and general character of the open learning areas will be domestic and related to the needs of children. Virtually no area has been set aside in the plan for internal circulation in the open learning areas and a high percentage of the total area will be teaching space.

A feature of the proposed design is that it will be possible to revert these schools back to a more conventional classroom arrangement by subdividing the open learning areas into smaller rooms of similar size should this be required in future years.

6.02 SINGLE TEACHER CLASSROOMS

To cater for remedial and other specialist needs the open learning areas of the school have been supplemented with 4 single teacher classrooms. These will be partially separated from each other by demountable partitions extending for two-thirds of the room's dimensions.

6.03 LIBRARY AND RESOURCE CENTRE

The library has been provided to assist students in developing their own abilities and natural aptitudes. It will be developed as a media resource centre and will contain tape recorders, tapes, projectors and other media in addition to the essential book collection.

6.04 ANCILLARY AREAS

The open spaces are essentially general purpose learning areas and as such they require a number of ancillary areas for specialised purposes. To meet the latter requirement, teachers' rooms, store rooms, practical work areas and fully enclosed special activity rooms have been provided within each open space learning area suite. The craft room is another ancillary adjunct provided in association with the primary classrooms and open learning areas.

6.05 FUNCTIONAL RELATIONSHIPS

The functional requirements of each school resolve into the following groups of accommodation: administration library-resource centre infant department primary department assembly areas pre-school

In the planning these elements have been arranged according to their functional relationships. The infant and primary classrooms and open space learning areas have been grouped together within each department and arranged around the library and resource centre which can be regarded as the hub of the school. The kindergarten facilities have been grouped together and accommodated in the pre-school wing which comprises a further element of each school. All 'open plan' learning areas open onto semi-enclosed sheltered courts where infant and primary children will be able to undertake project assignments and other activities out of doors.

The administration area, with the staff common room adjoining, has been located in a wing near the main entrance and convenient to the primary and infant departments of the school.

The school canteen has been located as a division between the primary and infant sections of the covered assembly areas planned at the rear of each school and within convenient distance of the adjoining community oval. 6.06 ACOUSTIC TREATMENT

Acoustic treatment will bc provided to reduce the general noise level so that speech intelligibility is satisfactorily maintained within each 'open space' learning area. To achieve this the floors in the learning areas will be carpeted and ceilings treated acoustically as necessary. The special activity rooms will be acoustically separated from the rest of the building.


Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I thank the House. My reason for incorporating those paragraphs is that they contain one of the accounts given in the evidence of the significance of the new open learning concept which is very different from the kind of educational processes taking place in many other parts of Australia. Another account is given by the Department of Education and Science and I would have substituted that for the Department of Works evidence except that it is longer. These schools are different in many respects and as the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) has said or implied, very beneficial and advantageous planning concepts are involved. There are such things as provision for buses actually to drive into the schools, and efforts are made to avoid children crossing roads. The schools are airconditioned. In addition, in the primary school situation there is a complex which incorporates educational opportunities for children of infant and pre-school ages.

Many people say: 'If you want to live a decent life, live in an area which is controlled by the Commonwealth because the Commonwealth gets its hands on the proceeds of uniform taxation first of all'. In other debates we have been saying what a wonderful thing it would be in other parts of Australia if the public education system were expanded to incorporate pre-school education. Obviously the best site for preschool education is in conjunction with the primary and infant school. If it is good enough for Tiwi and Wanguri it ought to be good enough for other parts of Australia. I regard this as a great precedent which ought to be followed by the States and which ought to be financed by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth substantially has the responsibility for underwriting the States in regard to education, and if this concept is desirable for Commonwealth territories we ought to be making more money available so that pre-school opportunities are available at school sites.

The open class concept is of such a nature that the schoolroom situation can be rearranged to provide for collective teaching, that is, for the utilisation of a number of teachers at the one time in an enlarged classroom. The classroom can be reduced in area. The furniture is movable; sometimes it takes the form of lightweight fibreglass squares which can be pushed into place to be made into tables, chairs or work benches. In addition, children have the opportunity of going immediately to open door learning areas which are screened and covered from the sun, which are aesthetically designed and which in a total way represent an appealing situation in which children can operate.

The library area provides all kinds of additional features apart from those that are ordinarily seen in a library. The ceilings are acoustic and there are carpets on the floor. Children can move around the place and make noise which is absorbed. In general, they are in a convivial, acceptable and happy situation in their learning process rather than being subjected to the oldfashioned disciplinary arrangement where the teacher seems to stand on one side and the children stand on the other side. The children and teachers work together in a friendly way and they develop selfmotivation. Even the parents become part of this learning process.

I strongly recommend that those honourable members who are interested in this concept look not just at the report provided by the Public Works Committee but also at the evidence given by the departmental experts. I believe that this kind of educational system will sweep out of the Tiwi and Wanguri schools and the other 2 schools that are being built at the moment - Nakara and Brunkin, which also are in Darwin and which incorporate this open class system - and find general acceptance because it is such an obviously desirable system that it will concern Australian children generally. I am pleased that the people of Darwin will get the opportunity to use this process because I have no doubt that a very great result will be achieved in the educational standards of the children in the Tiwi and Wanguri school districts.

Question resolved in the affirmative.







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