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supportive spaces for enhanced learning experiences

Wainuiomata Primary School is a coeducational school based in Lower Hutt, New Zealand who focus on positive behaviour and creating an emotionally supportive environment. The goal when renewing the school’s four classroom spaces was to give the students an enhanced opportunity for learning and a space that reflects individual differences.

With the philosophy of promoting active learning skills, Principal, Allison Burdon’s requirements for the classroom upgrades was centered around having flexible learning spaces that cater to the individual needs of students. The school goes above and beyond in teaching students skills that will assist them in their future stage of life when they enter the workforce.

“We realise that, for students to be successful, they need to be in a learning space where they are comfortable.”

Allison Burdon - Principal, Wainuiomata Primary School

Furnware Business Development Manager, Tim Curtis, is familiar with the schools’ learning philosophy and so when the construction began, Allison requested Tim’s learning space expertise to support the school in their classroom design. Upon meeting with Allison, they concluded that with the two new buildings, there would be two brand new year five and six spaces that would need to be furnished.
In addition to the new classrooms, there was also an opportunity to redesign two existing junior classrooms. To align with budget restraints and sustainability, these two rooms were upgraded using existing furniture from the school.

Being the first time that Allison had worked with Furnware, she was unaware of the possibilities around flexible furniture. Tim met with Allison to understand the school’s pedagogy, their needs and what the objective for this project was. After viewing the Lookbook and seeing all the possibilities of how their spaces could look, Tim also gave Allison the opportunity to see Furnware’s furniture in action by taking her on visits to other schools. This helped her to be able to see how the products work in a space and ultimately choose what she saw fit for the school.

“We didn’t realise all the possibilities of what is out there. When looking at the brochure, you really wonder how it will work in your space."

Allison Burdon - Principal, Wainuiomata Primary School

From the initial meeting, the process spanned over a year. During this time, Tim viewed the plans of the school and designed the space in Furnware’s 3D app based on the conversations he had with Allison. She loved the fact that she could do a virtual walkthrough and have ownership of the space before committing to the purchase of the product. She was able to present the plan to the board and get approval and proceed with the project which was installed at the start of term four, 2023.
With the goals and objectives of Wainuiomata Primary School in mind, the furniture was carefully selected to ensure the students have the resources to be their best. Bodyfurn chairs were used in all of the classrooms, paired with Endeavour Tables and Waverley System Tables to create collaborative settings. To allow for a tiered learning approach, Bodyfurn Lab Stools were grouped with Base Range soft seating, creating a breakaway space within the classroom. As an addition, the school opted for Cookie Pads as a floor seating option for the students.

“Contact a Furnware representative and talk to them about what your needs are as a school. I’d really recommend visiting other schools to see what furniture is available out there.”

Allison Burdon - Principal, Wainuiomata Primary School

When it came to the colour palette of the classrooms, Tim suggested using natural and neutral tones throughout, where possible. That presented the opportunity to explore pops of colours in the soft furnishings and floor seating.

The spaces are quite different to what the school had in place before as they are just getting started on their journey of experimenting with flexible spaces. Aligning with their pedagogy, the school is catering for independent learners in a way that that can suit their style but keep them involved in the classroom.

“A lot of our children are neurodiverse, and one size doesn’t fit all. Furnware offers different sizes for different people which helps us support our students in a style that fits them.”

Allison Burdon - Principal, Wainuiomata Primary School

Feedback from both staff and students has been very positive. They are all very excited about experiencing a new way of teaching and learning in a more modern learning environment. According to Allison, the students have commented on how comfortable the new furniture is. Their favourite thing is the soft furnishing setting with the high stools and quarter circle bench.

“The environment now fits with the way we teach our children. Before, we had to make them fit into the classroom, but now the classroom fits them.”

Allison Burdon - Principal, Wainuiomata Primary School

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