If you like to keep an eye on public investment in Australia, you’ve probably noticed that enormous amounts of it are currently being pumped into schools. For example, in my home state of South Australia last year, the Federal Government announced a $20bn increase in school funding over 10 years. That’s on top of the State Government’s earlier $1bn commitment to public school capital projects. There’s good reason for this too – Australia’s school student numbers are inflating rapidly, with national figures estimating growth by 650,000 over ten years to 2026. Queensland, where BADGE has two offices, is projected to have 170,000 more students over the same period.
So why have we been paying attention to all of this?
Well, BADGE is a builder with a proud background in the education sector. We’ve delivered over 230 education projects in the last 15 years, worth in excess of $1bn, and we want to keep going – so we need to match the student boom with spacious, state-of-the-art learning facilities.
We’re about to tackle a fresh set of challenges with this. It’s becoming harder to find suitable large sites to build traditional low-rise schools, so we’re expecting to develop bespoke designs (like this one) that suit the sites and locations available. We’re also seeing more public and private clients ask for a focus on community use during the planning and design stages. Just recently, we delivered a project for Xavier College in South Australia that was designed beyond the usual school requirements in terms of access, so that the facilities could be used outside of normal school hours by the community.
A major focus for BADGE is the process of configuring a building to support the teaching techniques of today, and the foreseeable future. Walking into a new school in 2019 is remarkably different to walking into one from 2009 and barely recognisable compared to one from 1999. The “cells and bells” approach is finished – today’s teachers rely on flexible spaces to get the best learning outcomes, and informal spaces must promote social connections between students by design. I was fortunate enough to attend the EduTECH conference in Sydney last year, and one of the hot topics amongst the international experts was how future technologies will impact our students’ learning and our teachers’ teaching. Our business strives to be at the forefront of delivering new technologies like virtual reality and AI teaching supports, in the same way we were years ago when now-ubiquitous technologies like interactive smart boards were introduced.
It doesn’t stop with the physical features either. There is growing evidence that environmental factors like temperature, humidity, lighting and CO2 levels can have a significant impact upon the ability of children to learn. For example, a US study measured a reduction in student performance with a temperature increase of as little as 0.5°C above a comfortable baseline. This research informs our approach to installing services in a facility, to ensure optimal environmental conditions are achieved.
We wouldn’t have a successful history in the education sector if we hadn’t put in serious effort to understand it and be ready to respond to contemporary challenges. Our next step forward in this space is the appointment of Ivan Cavuoto in the newly-created specialist position of Education Sector Lead. Ivan brings with him an architectural background and a wealth of sector knowledge, having spent the last 10 years working on projects for Catholic Education SA.
By drawing on our decades of experience in how schools are created, and engaging with the latest developments in how schools are used, the BADGE team is set to continue building into a new era of education.Browse more BADGE Blog posts