106 | COMMUNITY Balmoral School Sue Russell Upgrade 20 years in the making Several new classroom blocks have been built at Balmoral School in Auckland, including a new 20 classroom block for the primary school, a new gymnasium, a new 12 class room block and six fully refurbished classrooms. Auckland’s Balmoral School is unique in many respects. It is a school of two campus’s, containing a primary school in one zone and an intermediate school with a larger zone that other intermediate-age students also attend. “Just under 50% of the children at our intermediate school did not attend our primary, so there are a lot of dynamics happening,” says school Principal, Malcolm Milner. Malcolm has been leading the team since 2007. Along with leading the pedagogical approaches of the school, he has also been overseeing a multi-million dollar redevelopment. One that has had far-reaching implications for how teaching and learning is experienced. The history behind the redevelopment is as long as the scope of the work is broad. Spanning decades of fundraising, and prudent financial management, the Board of Trustees contributed upward of $4million to the $30+million total budget, a stunning effort on anyone’s standard. “It was 20 years in the making. Two decades of strategic thinking and having a long term vision of what you want to achieve. It goes down to the strength of the school vision and we’ve been fortunate with a very stable Board of Trustees.” Not only also did the bulk of the new work take place during a time when the school was challenged to deliver learning in new ways given COVID lock-downs and staggered returns to school attendance but the bulk of the building work took place while the school was in operation. This called for a very flexible collective approach. The redevelopment has been at a scale not undertaken by any other full primary school in New Zealand and Malcolm puts down the success of the project to three things: a skilled and experienced building contractor, an adaptable team of teachers and support staff and the positivity of the school community. In all several, new classroom blocks have been built, including a new 20 classroom block for the primary school, a new ¾ size gymnasium, a new 12 class room block and six fully refurbished classrooms now offering flexible learning spaces A separate entrance made it possible for building crews to work on the construction while the school continued in existing buildings. When Business North spoke with Malcolm the building work was complete, leaving ground work to be completed, including a concrete path around the school field, upgraded pool surrounds, two cricket nets, extensive plantings, two outdoor classrooms with cover and big sandpits for students to enjoy. “For a state school I know we have amazing facilities and once the landscaping work has been completed this school is just going to be stunning.” Driving design away from the old single cell traditional classroom space, was the Ministry of Education who wanted to see more flexible learning spaces. Malcolm also says Architect RTA listened to the school’s own ideas. “We did a lot of research with four years of visits to other school here and in Australia. We have gone with muted tones and we also looked very closely at our curriculum delivery.” Malcolm says feedback from teachers and students has been very positive. Rooms open up to the outside creating break-away spaces for smaller groups to gather. Kitchens were also installed in most rooms. “The staff are loving it, with higher ceilings and good air-flow and because we’re working in hubs teachers are able to see other teachers working which is great for their own professional development. It’s a much more collaborative environment.” Acknowledging that the teaching staff have adapted in various ways to the new learning environment Malcolm says the new teaching hub designs are working very well. Another benefit that has flowed is a much more flexible approach to meeting the employment needs of staff. “I have one hub with three part-time teachers and one full-time teacher. It’s meant I have been able to keep three experienced wonderful teachers who could not work fulltime. And I know that the teaching practice standards have improved.” Malcolm believes that being able to work with staff needs is vital in creating a more sustainable work force. Staff have experienced an increase in workload given the more dynamic busy use of spaces while significant improvement in acoustic technologies have been delivered into the teaching area. “For a state school I know we have amazing facilities and once the landscaping work has been completed this school is just going to be stunning.” 0800 RITELINE 16 Kaimahi Road, Wairau Valley, Auckland 0627 Riteline Roo ing is proudly New Zealand owned and operated. We use quality roo ing and cladding to suit any residential and commercial requirements. All our roo ing products come with a full warranty, and we are backed by our reputable suppliers.