The idea that the New Zealand education system will cater to all students, regardless of ability, and support them in developing their full potential to the best of their abilities, is enshrined in the famous 1939 Beeby/Fraser statement. Equality of access policy discourse has shifted to emphasise equitable outcomes, focussed increasingly on preparing students for success in the globalised, 21st century knowledge economy. In this context, the design and development of innovative new school buildings and refurbishments of existing facilities have been promoted as a policy that will enable, even bring about, modern pedagogical practices that, in turn, will achieve the stated aim of preparing students for the 21st century global economy. Arguments against retaining traditional single-cell classrooms include their perpetuation of traditional, mainstream (‘one-size-fits-all’) approaches to teaching and learning, while new, radical building designs hold the promise of enabling the desired ‘new’ pedagogies. Flexible learning environments encourage and enable teachers to exchange ‘front-of-the-room’, single teacher presentational approaches for collaborative, dispersed and facilitative styles, often in teams, working with multiple students in shared, common learning spaces. The New Zealand Curriculum has ensured inclusion as an educational principle, and current Ministry of Education policy discourse reminds schools of their commitment to this principle, and specifically links building design and design processes to ensuring inclusivity. So it should be asked whether non-traditional, flexible learning spaces can be inclusive. This article places this question in the context of the historically evolving approach to inclusion in the New Zealand context, and with reference to the ‘spatial turn’ in recent New Zealand education policy. This turn to enhanced flexibility and innovation has implications for inclusivity, reflected in both Ministry of Education policy discourse and critiques suggesting the exclusionary effects of flexibility. It is argued with reference to Lefebvre that notions of inclusion and exclusion are inherent in social practices that are both superimposed upon material space as much as they are influenced by the design features of that space.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Barback, J. (Feb 14, 2018). Inclusive education—where are we going wrong? Education Review. Retrieved 2 September 2018 from http://educationreview.co.nz/inclusive-education-where-are-we-going-wrong/.
Beetham, H., & Sharpe, R. (Eds.). (2013). Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Benade, L. (2016). Is the classroom obsolete in the twenty-first century? Educational Philosophy and Theory, 49(8), 796–807. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131857.2016.1269631.
Benade, L. (2017). Being a teacher in the 21st century: A critical New Zealand study. Singapore: Springer Nature. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-3782-5.
Benade, L. (2019, in press). Effective teaching in flexible learning spaces. In M. Hill & M. Thrupp (Eds.), The professional practice of teaching (6th ed.). Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning.
Bevan-Brown, J. (2015). Introduction. In J. Bevan-Brown, M. Berryman, H. Hickey, S. Macfarlane, K. Smiler, & T. Walker (Eds.), Working with Māori children with special educational needs (pp. 3–29). Wellington, New Zealand: NZCER Press.
Blackmore, J., Bateman, D., Loughlin, J., O’Mara, J. & Aranda, G. (2011). Research into the connection between built learning spaces and student outcomes Literature review, paper No. 22 June. State of Victoria (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development). Retrieved from http://www.education.vic.gov.au.
Bolstad, R., & Gilbert, J., with McDowall, S., Bull, A., Boyd, S., & Hipkins, R. (2012). Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching: A New Zealand perspective. Report prepared for the Ministry of Education. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Council for Educational Research and Ministry of Education. http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/schooling/109306.
Brown, P., & Lauder, H. (1996). Education, globalisation and economic development. Journal of Education Policy, 11(1), 1–25.
Butterworth, G., & Butterworth, S. (1998). Reforming education: The New Zealand experience 1984–1996. Palmerston North, New Zealand: Dunmore Press.
Carpenter, V., & Jaramillo, N. (2014). Social justice in education. In A. St. George, S. Brown, & J. O’Neill (Eds.), Facing the big questions in teaching: Purpose, power and learning (2nd ed., pp. 65–72). Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning.
Caughley, J. (1928). The development of the curriculum. In I. Davey (Ed.), Fifty years of national education in New Zealand: 1878–1928 (pp. 36–45). Auckland, New Zealand: Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd.
Chapman, A., Randell-Moon, H., Campbell, M., & Drew, C. (2014). Students in space: Student practices in non-traditional classrooms. Global Studies of Childhood, 4(1), 39–48. https://doi.org/10.2304/gsch.2014.4.1.39.
Charteris, J., Smardon, D., & Nelson, E. (2017). Innovative learning environments and new materialism: A conjunctural analysis of pedagogic spaces. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 49(8), 808–821. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131857.2017.1298035.
Charteris, J., Smardon, D., & Page, A. (2018). Spatialised practices in ILEs: Pedagogical transformations and learner agency. In L. Benade & M. Jackson (Eds.), Transforming education: Design & governance in global contexts (pp. 19–32). Singapore: Springer Nature.
Codd, J. (2005a). Is there a ‘Third Way’ for education policy? In J. Codd & K. Sullivan (Eds.), Education policy directions in Aotearoa New Zealand (pp. xiii–xviii). Southbank, VIC, Australia: Thomson Dunmore Press.
Codd, J. (2005b). Politics and policy making in education. In P. Adams, K. Vossler, & C. Scrivens (Eds.), Teachers’ work in Aotearoa New Zealand (pp. 28–38). Southbank, Vic, Australia: Thomson Dunmore Press.
Codd, J. (2005c). Teachers as ‘managed professionals’ in the global education industry: The New Zealand experience. Educational Review, 57(2), 193–206.
Dumont, H., & Istance, D. (2010). Politics and policy making in education. In H. Dumont, D. Istance, & F. Benavides (Eds.), The nature of learning: Using research to inspire practice (pp. 19–34). Paris, France: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264086487-3-en.
Eder, J. (2018, May 2). ‘My child is not a guinea pig’: Parents want proof ‘experimental’ classrooms work. The Marlborough Express. Retrieved 2 Feb 2019 from https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/101994384/my-child-is-not-a-guinea-pig-parents-want-proof-experimental-classrooms-work.
Equality Challenge Unit. (2013). Equality and diversity for academics: Inclusive practice. https://www.strath.ac.uk/media/ps/sees/equality/e-and-d-for-academics-factsheet-inclusive-practice.pdf.
Fisher, K. (2005). Research into identifying effective learning environments. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/education/innovation-education/centreforeectivelearningenvironmentscele/37905387.pdf.
Imms, W. (2016). New generation learning environments: How can we find out if what works is working? In W. Imms, B. Cleveland, & K. Fisher (Eds.), Evaluating learning environments: Snapshots of emerging issues, methods and knowledge (pp. 21–34). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
Jones, K. (2018, Jul 21). Are modern learning environments working in our schools? Nelson Mail. Retrieved 2 Feb 2018 from https://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/105196164/are-modern-learning-environments-working-in-our-schools.
Kearney, A., & Bevan-Brown, J. (2014). Inclusive education: Addressing the challenge of equity in education. In A. St. George, S. Brown, & J. O’Neill (Eds.), Facing the big questions in teaching: Purpose, power and learning (pp. 97–103). Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning.
Lefebvre, H. (1991). The production of space. (D. Nicholson-Smith, trans.). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Loveless, A., & Williamson, B. (2013). Learning identities in a digital age: Rethinking creativity, education and technology. New York, NY: Routledge.
McKenzie, D. (1997). The cult of efficiency and miseducation: Issues of assessment in New Zealand schools. In M. Olssen & K. Morris Matthews (Eds.), Education policy in New Zealand: the 1990s and beyond (pp. 47–64). Palmerston North, New Zealand: Dunmore Press.
McLaren, J. & Page, W.H. (2012). Noise issues in inclusive learning environments. In Centre of excellence for research in inclusive education, (pp. 204–219). Auckland, New Zealand: Dunmore Press.
Mealings, K., Buchholz, J., Demuth, K., & Dillon, H. (2015). Investigating the acoustics of a sample of open plan and enclosed Kindergarten classrooms in Australia. Applied Acoustics, 100(2015), 95–105. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apacoust.2015.07.009.
Ministry of Education [MOE]. (2007). The New Zealand Curriculum. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media Limited. Available from http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/The-New-Zealand-Curriculum.
Ministry of Education [MOE]. (2015). Flexible learning spaces in schools. Retrieved 2 September 2018 from http://www.education.govt.nz/school/property/state-schools/design-standards/ exible-learning-spaces/.
Ministry of Education. [MOE]. (2017). Flexible learning spaces: How the design of spaces can help student achievement https://www.education.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Primary-Secondary/Property/School-property-design/Flexible-learning-spaces/FLS-How-the-design-of-spaces-can-help-student-achievement.pdf.
Ministry of Education. [MOE]. (2018). Inclusive education. Retrieved 2 September 2018 from https://www.education.govt.nz/school/running-a-school/inclusive-education/.
Ministry of Education [MOE]. (nd). Talking terminology.Retrieved 2 September 2018 from http://ile.education.govt.nz/talking-terminology/.
Nair, P. (2011). The classroom is obsolete: It’s time for something new. Education Week. Retrieved 2 September 2018, from https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/07/29/37nair.h30.html.
New Zealand Taskforce to Review Education Administration. (1988). Administering for excellence: effective administration in education. Wellington, New Zealand: The Taskforce.
Olssen, M., & Morris Matthews, K. (1997). Introduction. In M. Olssen & K. Morris Matthews (Eds.), Education policy in New Zealand: the 1990s and beyond (pp. 7–46). Palmerston North, New Zealand: Dunmore Press.
O’Neill, A., Clark, J., & Openshaw, R. (2004). Mapping the field: An introduction to curriculum politics in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In A. O’Neill, J. Clark, & R. Openshaw (Eds.), Reshaping culture, knowledge and learning? Policy and content in the New Zealand Curriculum Framework (Vol. 1, pp. 25–46). Palmerston North, New Zealand: Dunmore Press.
Openshaw, R. (2009). Reforming New Zealand secondary education: The Picot Report and the road to radical reform New York. NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD]. (2009). Creating effective teaching and learning environments: First results from TALIS. Retrieved from https://www.oecd.org/education/school/43023606.pdf.
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD]. (2013). Innovative Learning Environments. Retrieved 2 September 2018 from http://www.oecd.org/education/ceri/innovativelearningenvironmentspublication.htm.
Page, A., & Davis, A. (2016). The alignment of Innovative Learning Environments and inclusive education: How effective is the new learning environment in meeting the needs of special education learners? New Zealand Journal of Teachers’ Work, 13(2), 81–98. https://doi.org/10.24135/teacherswork.v13i2.79.
Saavedra, A., & Opfer, D. (2012). Learning 21st-century skills requires, 21st-century teaching. Phi Delta Kappan, 94(2), 8–13.
Selvaraj, J. (2016). Inclusion in New Zealand secondary schools: Policy and practice. Doctoral thesis, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/2292/29647/whole.pdf?sequence=2.
Simon, J. (2000). Education policy change: historical perspectives. In J. Marshall, E. Coxon, K. Jenkins, & A. Jones (Eds.), Politics, policy, pedagogy: education in Aotearoa/New Zealand (pp. 25–70). Palmerston North, New Zealand: Dunmore Press.
Sullivan, K. (2002). Editorial: Education policy and practice in contemporary Aotearoa-New Zealand. McGill Journal of Education, 37(1), 6–12.
Tanner, C. K. (2009). Effects of school design on student outcomes. Journal of Educational Administration, 47, 376–394. https://doi.org/10.1108/09578230910955809.
Te Kete Ipurangi [TKI]. (nd) (a). Developing an inclusive classroom culture. Retrieved 2 September 2018 from http://inclusive.tki.org.nz/guides/developing-an-inclusive-classroom-culture/.
Te Kete Ipurangi [TKI]. (nd) (b). Planning innovative learning environments. Retrieved 2 September 2018 from http://inclusive.tki.org.nz/guides/ile/.
Wall, G. (2016). The impact of physical design on student outcomes. Report commissioned by the Ministry of Education. http://www.education.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Primary-Secondary/Property/School-property-design/Flexible-learning-spaces/FLS-The-impact-of-physical-design-on-student-outcomes.pdf.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Benade, L. Flexible Learning Spaces: Inclusive by Design?. NZ J Educ Stud 54, 53–68 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40841-019-00127-2
- Innovative Learning Environments
- Flexible Learning Space
- School design