From the Principal

The Importance of the Learning Environment

“Any space we enter elicits physical, psychological and behavioural responses” Heidi Hayes-Jacobs.

As the shape of our Middle School becomes less amorphous and more defined, it is timely to revisit why we have embarked on such an innovative and important development for our School.

The traditional “one-house” schoolrooms of the past are no longer fit for purpose for our 21st Century learners.  In the 1800s and throughout the 20th Century, as well as a standardised curriculum, there was a standardised classroom layout and a “one size fits all approach” to the furniture in those classrooms.

At Pulteney, we have been continuing a dialogue over a number of years about which environments work best.  This has, quite rightly, prompted numerous discussions amongst our staff, students and parents.  These formal and informal discussions have influenced our decision making about learning spaces, the breakout and communal spaces that adjoin them and our exterior landscape.

We continue to refine our approach to an inclusive design process, that engages all users of a space, and we have learnt from the work already completed in the Centre for Senior Learning, the 3 year old room in the Early Learning Centre, the Senior Resource Centre and the trial of furniture currently being undertaken in the Mod Pods.  These are spaces that cater to a diverse student population, ranging in age from three to eighteen years old.  These spaces must also provide the agility to foster adult learning opportunities for our staff, parents and wider community. 

Heidi Hayes-Jacobs is an author and internationally recognised education leader known for her work in curriculum mapping, curriculum integration, and developing 21st century approaches to teaching and learning.  She states:

“To assist innovation design teams, I created the Learning Space Spectrum (below). The spectrum shows how educators can begin with the most basic changes, such as moving furniture and fixtures to create a more accommodating environment. As you go around the spectrum, the options become increasingly complex, leading to dynamic new learning environments that, in turn, increase the opportunities for responsive and robust learning.” 

At Pulteney, we have been investigating and applying the range of approaches outlined in this spectrum and we will continue to measure and seek feedback on the impact that these have on the learning of our students.

It is an exciting time for our School and I look forward to sharing with our entire community the innovative, agile and stimulating learning spaces that our new Middle School will provide very soon!

Anne Dunstan




Jacobs, H. & Alcock, M. (2017) Bold Moves for Schools: How We Create Remarkable Learning Environments, ASCD. (2018). Feature: Heidi Hayes-Jacobs. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].