What is the bigger picture regarding school renewal across Christchurch?

The Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 led to the Education Renewal Recovery Programme

What does this mean for Waimairi School?

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Interim work underway to re-open the school after 2011 earthquake.

- As with all other Christchurch Schools the previous capital works renewal programme has been suspended. Yes, we are looking a bit tatty around the edges as time goes on, but it is not good use of money to re-carpet and upgrade buildings which are slated for demolition. We have an exciting future ahead so we can tolerate what we have at the moment.

-Waimairi School Board of Trustees and the Ministry of Education have signed off on the 'Master Plan' for the Waimairi School’s renewal.

-Funds for previously planned capital works, addressing watertightness issues, modernisation and extra post-quake innovation have all been rolled together to become the fund for this work being done, across the whole school site, as one project at the same time. This make good sense.

2012 - 2013  Master Planning

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Former Board Chair Dave McCone with an early emerging Master Plan concept drawing.

-The Board of Trustees surveyed Waimairi families about their ideas and aspirations for any rebuild work that might happen at the school. We asked about the skills, dispositions and attributes that parents want children leaving Waimairi at Year 6 to have. We also asked what sort of built environment and landscaping would best support this.

-We ran several ‘share an idea’ workshops where parents came together to discuss possible options for the sort of children we want to develop at Waimairi,  the style of learning, and renewal of the school buildings. Parents expressed preferences and concerns for the Board of Trustees to keep in mind during the 'master planning' process.

-The Ministry of Education appointed Stevenson & Turner working in conjunction with Hayball to put together our Master Plan. 

-The whole school staff raised funds to undertake a study tour of contemporary schooling in Melbourne. The last day of this week long tour was the start of the ‘Master Planning’ process, a workshop with Dr. Julia Atkin on developing shared design principles for our school renewal.

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Waimairi staff visiting Silverton School, Melbourne in 2013.

-Board of Trustees members brought parent voice from our community survey and parent workshops to the table. Staff elected a panel of teaching and support staff to get into the detail of the planning with the architects. Student voice panels were conducted with children of all ages and their work was also kept on the table and feed into the planning.

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Board of Trustees analysing parent ideas and feedback from consultation meetings and survey.

-The Board and staff ‘planning panel’ ran update & feedback meetings for Waimairi parents to share emerging ideas and plans, as the process unfolded.

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Staff and BOT panel working with architects on early version of Master Plan.

-The end result was a Master Plan that the the Board of Trustees were happy to enter into signed agreement with the Ministry of Education on. It is innovative and future-focussed and takes into account the messages and principles developed by parents, staff and students.

Take a look for yourself.

Proposed site plan.

Proposed phasing plan.

Indicative photo view possible parking option.

Notes on master planning outcomes:

-The previously hidden ‘river’ scar across the field, through Rooms 14/15, the netball court and hall rules out this part of the school site for new building.

-The master plan has been costed based on retaining Te Puna, Rooms 7/8, Rooms 16/17, Room 22 and the Room 21/learning support building.

-Hall, Library, Admin’ Block, Rooms 9/10, Rooms 11, 12, 13, Room 18/19, Room 20,  Rooms 14/15 replaced by new building.

-Room 22 building being extended.

2013-2016 Prototyping and Detailed Design

Video: Avoiding ‘pendulum swings’. Speaks to the importance of trusting and supporting teachers to design well-informed solutions, not implementing someone else’s practices and ideas… especially about so-called ‘MLE’ learning environments.

Before the detailed design can begin staff, children and community must be very clear about the values and beliefs that underpin learning at Waimairi School. 

We need to have a shared understanding of the skills, dispositions and attributes we want Year 6 leavers to have. These things become the guiding principles for the building and landscaping design to support.

It is clear that to endure the for next 40 years whatever is designed has to be flexible and reconfigurable. This means that new buildings will not be rows of exclusively fixed ’single cell’ classrooms.

To be able to contribute to the final planning with authority and actual experience our staff are currently engaged in designing and prototyping possible configurations of learning and the spaces to support it.

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Waimairi staff in workshop with legendary educational interior designer Mary Featherstone learning to design and prototype in an educational setting.

Using existing old buildings we are ‘mocking up’ different settings and configurations  using low cost materials then researching  how they function as effective learning spaces.

The use of our old buildings in this way means Waimairi staff have developed an ever maturing, research informed, learning design methodology. It also means that current Waimairi children are benefiting from very well thought-out and executed learning programmes in spaces that support it well.

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Richard Leonard from Hayball training Waimairi staff in the design of learning settings.

The 2013-2016 prototyping programme  is overseen by two well respected leaders in the field of powerful and effective learning. Dr. Julia Atkin and Pam Hook are in the school every term acting as critical friends throughout the process.

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Julia Atkin helping Waimairi teachers clarify the ‘why’ behind their learning design work.

We also value the design expertise of Melanie Bloom and Nina Baillie of Think Space Interiors Ltd during our prototyping phase.

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Melanie and Nina from Think Space Interiors building prototype ‘forum’ seating for Kahukura.

Final detailed design with architects, yet to be appointed by the Ministry of Education, is scheduled for late 2016.

2017 is construction time

Waimairi School’s actual renewal building and landscaping is currently scheduled for 2017. We should be handed the keys to our new school at the end of Term 1 2018.


Stay Involved 

As with the Master Planning in 2012 & 2013 there will be considerable parent and community voice input to the detailed design phase.

Make sure you take advantage of the next round of community workshops and survey work beginning in June 2016.

2016 - Community Consultation Schedule

Tuesday 21 June. Community Workshops with Dr. Julia Atkin -  9am-11am and again from 7pm-9pm.

Internationally respected educator Julia Atkin will run a morning, and a repeated evening workshop, for Waimairi parents to capture your aspirations and ideas for the final design of the renewed Waimairi School.

Student Voice Workshops. 11:30am - 2:30pm. Julia will work with a range of Waimairi students to capture their thinking and perspectives on our future school design.

Early Term 3 -  Treaty Perspectives Workshop. 7pm-9pm. This session is to gather input and ideas from anyone who has an interest in ensuring the renewed school honours the Treaty of Waitangi and acknowledges Mana Whenua. 

This workshop is a great opportunity to also unpack the treasure which Ngai Tahu have provided to us in the form of a ‘cultural narrative’ to guide and inform this design process.



February update

Our architects have been appointed. They are

Our Education Brief documents been submitted to the Ministry of Education for review and consideration. This is the document that guides and instructs our architects and designers.

Our master plan will be reviewed then detailed designs prepared.

Scheduled work start is January 2018 (this is about 9 months behind the original schedule

April update

Our Education Brief document has been approved ‘as is’ by the Ministry of Education. Here is their feedback.

"I am pleased to inform you that your brief was discussed earlier this week and has been given the green light. Your brief has now been passed over to the Property  Team. 

 I personally liked  section 5 of the education brief where it referenced other documents such as Te Whāriki.  We noted that your brief has a clear vision, your community is engaged and the brief strongly reflects the schools practice and vision. 

 Thank you so much to you and your team for all your hard work and effort into creating this document. Please remember your navigator is able to work with you to help you prepare your staff in readiness for the building work.  I would like to draw your attention to the Grow Waitaha Website where there are new videos now available of different schools’ rebuild projects

 There has been a request from schools moving into the rebuild phase for examples to look at for Education Briefs. Would your school be willing to make your Education Brief for other schools to ‘look’ at? The Navigators will be careful to make sure schools look at the exemplars, as opposed to taking them as the briefs need to be as unique as each school is.

 Thank you again for your hard work"             

The approval of our ‘Brief’ is the culmination of eight years hard work by the whole school staff and community. We are a big step closer to a renewed school which is specifically designed to support the way we work.

You can read our final Education Brief here


Read More

The educative underpinnings of learning at Waimairi School.

CEFPI Australasia - where great schools begin.

Rebuilding Christchurch Schools

Grow Waitaha 


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