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     FrontPage Edition: Fri 30 Dec 2005

Schools to get more say in design of school facilities



The Ministry of Education (MOE) will introduce a new framework to provide greater flexibility in the design of primary and secondary schools.
The framework, called Flexible School Infrastructure (FlexSI), will ensure that the school infrastructure is sufficiently flexible to support teaching approaches to better engage students in learning. These include interactive, experiential, independent and hands-on learning.
The new framework for flexible school design was announced by Minister for Education, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, at the 8th Appointment Ceremony for Principals on 29 December 2005.
FlexSI is introduced to support recent initiatives such as Strategies for Effective Engagement and Development (SEED) and Teach Less, Learn More (TLLM), which have spurred greater exploration in pedagogical strategies and student engagement within and beyond the classroom.
FlexSI will give schools more room to innovate in teaching and learning, and to adjust classroom arrangements whenever necessary.
Under FlexSI, the design of school facilities will support ground-up initiatives that are school-based and teacher-owned.
FlexSI will encourage increased school involvement in the shaping of school designs to meet their specific teaching and operational requirements, and to reflect their own school identity and culture. Examples include schools which decide to design an ecostreet to provide for new experiences in the learning of the sciences; or an outdoor amphitheatre designed for dual use as a space for the performing arts as well as a conducive space for students to interact.
With FlexSI, schools will have the flexibility to:

a. Come up with new school design concepts such as modular classrooms that can be opened up for larger group lectures, or partitioned to become smaller areas for small group discussions.

b. Design rooms that are currently constructed for specialised subjects to enable multiple-usage. For example,

i. By using mobile and flexible furniture and fittings, a music room and audio visual room can be designed so that it can open up into a bigger space for additional use as a dance studio;

ii. Canteen tables and chairs can be fitted with wheels so that they can be easily tucked aside to convert the canteen space into a multi-function space.

c. Arrange and design up to 10% of the common areas such as corridors and study areas so that they can be integrated with formal teaching spaces like the classroom to form expanded learning spaces, to provide for further flexibility in learning.

MOE will be setting aside $40 million to implement FlexSI for 60 primary and secondary schools over the next 5 years.
These are new schools and schools undergoing PRIME (Programme for Rebuilding and IMproving Existing Schools).
For the remaining primary and secondary schools which are not undergoing PRIME, MOE will also allow for flexible designs to be implemented through renovations to existing facilities.
For a start, an additional $5 million will be set aside for 10 pilot schools, which will be identified amongst these non-PRIME schools, to implement FlexSI, so that the framework can be fine-tuned before it is rolled out to the rest of the existing schools.
Independent Schools currently have full flexibility in deciding on their facilities, while Junior Colleges are already provided with a wide range of facilities including lecture theatres and tutorial rooms.
The FlexSI framework will nevertheless serve as a guide to Independent Schools and Junior Colleges, and provide them more ideas on how they can make their infrastructure more flexible.
More..... (Background)

Source: Press Release 29 Dec 2005

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