School Design is an intentional process to get to new, relevant solutions that create purpose-led institutions.
Many schools being built are unsuited to the changing future pedagogy, curriculum and learner expectations that can already be anticipated. The world that schools are being designed for is changing, propelled by some powerful drivers. Globally, new pedagogies are emerging. STEM and ICT have been catalysts for change and key tools to bring about changes in learning.
School Design Thinking
The Hearth Education Advisors has conceptualised a process, School Design Thinking, that enables the creation of leading learning communities for the future, where the schools are dynamic, adaptive, self-organising systems, not only capable but inherently designed to renew themselves and to grow and change. School Design Thinking is about having an intentional process to get to new, relevant solutions that create positive impact in schools. It is a process for transforming difficult challenges into opportunities for school design.
The Hearth develops a detailed Education Design for the school that serves as a guiding document for the education philosophy, operational methodology and overall concept strategy that the founders of the school are seeking. The Education Design keeps the local and international market requirements and regulatory obligations in perspective and ensures that the operations of the school are in keeping with the guiding principles with which the institution was established.
The Education Design recognises that the primary purpose of the school is to provide an environment where learning happens, where learners can learn to learn, where learners can develop habits and skills with which they continue to learn throughout their lives. It is about working through a process, which helps the learners acquire skills and information that they can process, to be adequately informed and armed to deal with a world in which they will be mature adults.
For high performing schools, The Hearth designs a bespoke curriculum, encompassing the totality of experiences that students will receive through the many activities that will go on in the school, in the classroom, library, laboratory, workshop, playgrounds and in the numerous informal contacts between teachers and students.
An important aspect related to the curriculum is the choice of examinations offered by the school, which will draw upon the requirements of the school curriculum as well as the need to ensure progression of students from the school to the best higher education institutions around the world. The Hearth, through its close association with international examination agencies is ideally positioned to determine the appropriate mix of examinations offered by the school.
School buildings do not exist in a vacuum. The way that teachers are developed professionally, the school curriculum, assessment and testing systems, parental engagement, expectations and entitlements all intermesh with the design of schools. Designing exceptional learning environments is never easy. Building appropriate, engaging, challenging, seductive, ambitious, effective, world-class schools is highly complex. That complexity is neither well understood nor well documented; it is thus not well implemented either.
Founders of schools usually prepare concept architectural plans as the first design aspect of the institution. While leading architectural experts may prepare a concept plan for the urban planning and architecture of the school, The Hearth provides detailed guidelines and conceptual ideas in the Infrastructure Design that guides architects, planners and the founding team in preparing institutional designs. This ensures that the concepts of the Education Design, local market requirements and regulatory obligations are kept in perspective.
The Hearth’s experience has shown that the most effective institutions are those where the Infrastructure Design draws upon and leads from the Education Design.
Designers who have worked with The Hearth have remarked on the enhanced effectiveness of their designs, when the architectural designs have been aligned with the philosophy as well as the operational requirements of a school.