The development of the St. Andrew's Scots School Master Plan implies far more than designing more spacious, luminous, modern, efficient and functional buildings. It constitutes a unique opportunity to rethink the spaces destined to learning in relation to a new educational model originated from the changes in the knowledge paradigm and which benefits education profoundly.
The rules of the game are very different nowadays given the fact that we are the first generation of educators that have access to all accumulated human knowledge. This implies a redefinition of the role of educators with the consequent impact that this will have in the physical spaces where learning will take place. In relation to the above, before dealing with infrastructure issues, it is important to describe key aspects that constitute the future educational project of the school that will be the basis to the design of each of the buildings that will form the Campus San Andrés.
The technological advances, the development of the Internet and the possibility to access all accumulated human knowledge make the teaching and learning process more centered in the possibility of learning, generating lifelong and independent learning habits that are not limited only to formal schooling but by the fact that learning continues to take place outside school.
The aforementioned changes and the major focus on learning, necessarily takes us to think about the changes in role of the teacher. From having a fundamental role in transmitting knowledge and basing their pedagogy mainly in delivering lectures to students, we move on to a model in which the teacher and students learn together and the teacher acquires a role more of a mentor or facilitator helping the students to apprehend and generate knowledge.
In contrast to existing classrooms where desks are arranged towards the front where the teacher stands, the new spaces for learning will have irregular shapes and be flexible, to foster different learning styles and modalities that will adapt to the diverse attitudes and learning styles.
Spaces that foster common activities and collaboration between students should be included in the design of these spaces in the heart of the building.
Areas in which students can study on their own will also be provided, taking into account independent learning as regards the new knowledge paradigm that fosters lifelong learning.
* Curriculum based on independent learning
As expressed earlier, the foundation of a curriculum for the XXI Century is centered on the possibility to continue life-long learning. This is the reason of the importance of basing a curriculum that fosters the development of skills that will last all life through deduction, inference and other approaches.
Even though it is universally accepted that students should be evaluated regarding their learning style and multiple intelligences, assessment in schools continues to be summative and effective mainly through written, timed tests. We should focus on generating assessment models that allow the development of the learning potential in every student and also contemplate XXI century skills and contents.
The new curriculum should be designed to be flexible in both content and skills as will certainly change constantly in the future and should also anticipate flexibility in the structure of the school timetable. We envisage including free study periods, a less structured curriculum and school schedules and the incorporation of extracurricular activities in the school's regular timetable.
Restructuring the traditional curriculum regarding subjects, contents and activities to be taught and learned, should necessarily be evaluated in terms of the new context in the knowledge era. Facing a superabundance of data makes it impossible to cover all accumulated knowledge analytically and some subjects for example Art, acquire a different relevance as to the development of non-conventional skills that can be very useful in the context of the XXI century.
On top of the other changes in the curriculum that will be evaluated in the future, Art and Music will clearly have major relevance given that they foster the development of skills related to the XXI Century context. Mobile Technology for learning.
The ubiquitous presence of technology in the new campus will be strongly focused towards the dimension of learning, acting as a catalyst and a vehicle to foment in students skills that will foster lifelong learning.
Nowadays, IT labs centralize the use of computers and the learning of technology takes place mainly in those premises. As we know them today, computer labs will no longer exist; students will have mobile devices that will ensure technology is present in all learning environments. Multimedia labs will exist, spaces in which specific activities will take place such as editing video and other advanced graphic design that will require larger computer capacity.
Different types of devices (laptops, tablets) will begin to be evaluated progressively to allow implementation of what is known as one-to-one model, in which students as well as teachers have their own multimedia devices with Internet access.
* Working with smaller groups reinforcing community dimension
One of the challenges of integrating the whole school in the new campus is given by the fact that both Kindergartens and Primaries will converge in one place; this will oblige us to rethink the scale that will allow us to maintain the personalized attention on our students. The design of the buildings should contemplate theideal size of the learning communities so as to develop a coherent pedagogy.
As mentioned above, a special challenge consists in developing a learning model that allows us to maintain the familiar atmosphere and provide answers to each of our student's needs when integrating both Primaries and Kindergartens. The design should anticipate the best answer to this challenge from a start.
Another challenge associated with the new school reality consists in designing a teaching, support and headship structure in order to optimize the human resources and count on specialists for each area of knowledge and age of our students.
* Collaborative learning based pedagogy
Even though technology allows us to work collaboratively in teams, today's pedagogy is still based on individual learning. In the future, pedagogy should contemplate team work and collaborative learning between students as a default model.
In today's model, each teacher is responsible for one class or subject. In the future, teams of teachers should share resources in a way in which each one can offer the students a teaching model in its best capacity so as to optimize the teaching resources of the school.
The buildings will be designed to incorporate spaces specifically destined for teacher collaboration generating Professional Learning Communities which can at the same time interact with students in this regard.
Another strong curricular tendency for the future is to integrate areas of knowledge in a model more similar to reality and further away from the artificial compartmentalization of reality into subjects. Project based activities and everyday problem-solving will be more frequent in the development of the future curriculum of the school.
* Emblematic premises in the new campus that embody care for our environment philosophy
Certain buildings in our new campus will be very visible with the objective of not only of preserving our environment but to serve as a learning model to our students that will be evidence for the school's philosophy of awareness and care of the environment.
We are evaluating the possibility of complying to some level of the LEED standards. By obtaining a certification of this kind, we would be the only school with this characteristic in Argentina and possibly in Latin America.
Some of the facilities destined to the conservation of the environment can be operated and administered by some students, so as to constitute effective learning opportunities and transmitting the value of caring for our environment.
The new campus will include abundant green spaces, ponds and specially conceived areas in which students can spend their free time and produce specific learning activities.
* Comprehensive education, heading for other dimensions besides the academic
The school's future curriculum, as is being developed during these last years, will be directed towards the comprehensive development of our students, in their personal dimension and their character and values formation as well as work to maintain and improve the school's educational project.
The role of non-curricular activities will be increasingly more important in the school's educational project because they have proven to contribute in the formation of values and skills of great relevance in the context in which our students will develop.
A very positive and not less important change consists of having the sports fields within the campus, this will save valuable commuting time that will be rechanneled into educational activities.
Having a well designed, luminous and attractive campus will enable the organization of more activities during and after school hours, improving the dimension of community of the school's educational project as well as integrating the whole of the St. Andrew's community.
The school's existing infrastructure is made up of buildings in two sites, Olivos and Punta Chica, of which some have been purposely built and some adapted with this purpose. The different sectors of the school occupy several buildings in an urban setting in Olivos, separated physically by a rail-line and streets open to public circulation. In Punta Chica, all academic activities are delivered in one building adjacent to the sports fields.
Besides issues relative to the obsolescence of some of the buildings, whose age requires major investments in maintenance, improving the infrastructure in the school's two sites would prove very difficult because of surface /area restrictions as well as the fact that these buildings were thought for an educational model with different pedagogy.
The movement of students between the buildings, particularly in secondary school, not only generates inefficiencies resulting in loss of time but does not help to generate a sense of ownership and conspiresagainst the development of a real learning community.
Being able to consolidate the whole school in one physical space generates a series of notable advantages in the development of the educational project:
* Sports fields: being able to have our sports premises within the campus allows for greater flexibility in the inclusion of sports activities, and a great gain in the time invested in transport to and from Punta Chica.
* Use of specific purpose areas: the use of purpose built spaces such as theatre, auditorium, indoor gym, pool accessible to the whole school will rebound in greater efficiency by avoiding duplicating spaces that are not used frequently to be justified. At the same time, this better use of the premises will enable that investments in equipment, resources and technology of these buildings that can be used by all students.
* Educational community: the fact that all schooling will develop on the same site, will allow for greater interaction between students, teachers and families that constitute the real educational community, making the most of the example of older students that are usually the models for the younger ones.
* Coordination: the convergence in one sole site will also allow for a more consistent and coherent work of the teams of teachers, as spaces and times for meetings will be more frequent thus simplifying the coordination of the school's educational project.
* Identity: an essential factor in the development of an educational community is to create and maintain a strong identity. The unique campus will give St. Andrew's a strong identity created from emblematic spaces and buildings as well as the possibility of completing schooling in one place.