Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Designing for transformation – a case study of open learning spaces and educational change

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Paula Cardellino, Dr Pamela Woolner



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Routledge, 2020.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


The design of a school building can be understood to play a central role in the creation of learning environments, and can therefore support educational change. However, non-architectural elements also need to be considered which can determine the success of a learning environment, particularly when change is attempted. Material space, pedagogical and organisational practices, staff culture and student milieu are interconnected features influencing a school as a whole learning environment. We draw from a theoretical framework (Gislason, 2010) to study the dynamic between learning spaces and teaching and learning in a single case study of a primary school in the UK that was designed to enable educational transformation. The school was intended to support flexibility of use of the learning spaces to enable different teaching and learning approaches. In this article, we highlight that the initial school educational intentions are still relatively in place, and the building is generally used successfully. In doing so, we argue for the importance of reaching a balance between the design of learning environments and the educational agenda. It is the necessity of achieving this alignment that makes school space a powerful local driver of educational change, while simultaneously suggesting the inherent difficulties in attempts to use physical alterations to spearhead policy-led transformation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Cardellino P, Woolner P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Pedagogy, Culture & Society

Year: 2020

Volume: 28

Issue: 3

Pages: 383-402

Online publication date: 31/07/2019

Acceptance date: 19/07/2019

Date deposited: 26/07/2019

ISSN (print): 1468-1366

ISSN (electronic): 1747-5104

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/14681366.2019.1649297


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric