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when traditional furniture just won’t work.

Footscray High School—Pilgrim Campus—in Victoria, Australia set out on a journey to transform its pedagogies and to embrace project-based, student-led collaborative learning.

Photo source: Footscray High School-Pilgrim Campus

Both Footscray’s Executive Principal Frank Vetere and Pilgrim Campus Principal Maria Chrisant strongly believe that effective collaboration happens when students share ideas and exchange opinions. The two principals had a vision of a school where students could learn to listen, question, compromise, discuss and think critically, thus generating a feedback loop to build community within the classroom.

Designing learning spaces to facilitate all of this while accommodating small group discussions or whole-class presentations requires some clever and flexible design thinking. So, the school approached Furnware in 2020 to be a partner in bringing its vision for collaboration and innovation to life at its new purpose-built Pilgrim Campus in Seddon.

Pilgrim Campus has dynamic and flexible spaces that support students to learn in a variety of ways.

Furnware Account Manager & Learning Space Design Specialist Sarah Smith collaborated with Frank and Maria to fully understand their vision for new spaces, pedagogy and learning objectives.

The Pilgrim Campus is now a thoughtfully designed welcoming space for Year 7-9 students. Here students and teachers can enjoy dynamic and flexible spaces that support diverse teaching and learning practices. Specialist areas support the school’s innovative STEAM curriculum where students can be found tackling real-world problems alongside teachers and community members.

Choosing furniture for students and staff was not a quick and simple task for Executive Principal Frank Vetere. He says, “It requires much thought and consideration as it's a significant investment in any school.”

Frank and his team’s priority was to create an optimal teaching and learning environment for staff and students. It was key to create an environment that supports different approaches and most importantly collaboration. Together with Furnware they have achieved their aim of building an environment that is safe, flexible, looks great and most importantly is comfortable.

“Working with Furnware you are assured that they too value the importance of furniture supporting pedagogical practices as well as providing a strong research base to furniture design and human interaction. Furnware takes their time and works with schools to ensure the right decisions are made.”

Frank Vetere - Executive Principal, Footscray High School

Pilgrim Campus Principal Maria Chrisant says, “Our experience partnering with Furnware was excellent—it was about getting the best furniture solutions that will support our pedagogy.”

“Collaboration and innovation are the top two keywords in all our discussions. The leadership team at Footscray wanted the modern campus to become the showstopper school in the area with furniture solutions that will allow independent, collaborative, and kinaesthetic learning. Naturally, the furniture had to be innovative and flexible to facilitate their modern learning and pedagogy,” notes Sarah.

2020 was a time of great uncertainty and with COVID-19 pitching curveballs at every stage of the project. Sarah and the support team had to quickly make a transition from face-to-face to virtual appointments. Staff at Footscray appreciated online 3D walkthroughs as they provided a holistic experience and allowed staff to visualise the completed project.

When asked about the success story despite the pandemic, Sarah says, “It was a proud moment for us all to achieve what we accomplished at the Pilgrim Campus amidst COVID-19. The project is a testament to our resilience and adaptability/flexibility—just because we cannot be there in person, it does not mean we cannot provide services to a school at this scale. Overall, it’s a great feeling to see Pilgrim Campus welcoming its foundation students in 2021.”

“The best part about the partnership was it almost felt like a family – we were one unit working toward a common outcome.”

Maria Chrisant - Principal, FHS-Pilgrim Campus

Principal Maria Chrisant about their dynamic and flexible spaces, pedagogy and partnership with Furnware.

Students talk about their learning experience at Footscray High School-Pilgrim Campus

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