The first stage of Lindfield Learning Village opened in 2019, welcoming an intake of 350 primary and secondary students, and has been received with much interest and enthusiastic support from parents.

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Lindfield Learning Village breaks away from the traditional model of education, which was intended to create a skilled workforce to service the Industrial Age, and later developed into STEM, its modern-day iteration. Instead, this unique school focuses on harnessing children’s natural abilities and encourages them to develop those as their core skills. These core skills are supported by ancillary skills, such as communication and collaboration for problem solving, as well as personal values, such as grit and endurance. The learning is facilitated by devising unique project-based curriculum that is developed by the student under guidance from tutor. This approach allows students to advance based on their stage (of development) rather than their age, unlike the traditional education model employing a common curriculum for all students irrespective of individual capabilities.

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“The model is focused on the disruption created by rapidly changing technology and the skill base required for the future workforce. Most jobs in the Industrial Era that required a generalist skillset, such as the application of historical information or data with simple analytical, mathematical or logical problem solving, will be easily replaced by Artificial Intelligence,” says DesignInc Managing Director Sandeep Amin. “There are already AI models in place to provide 80 per cent of simple legal or medical advice with far greater accuracy compared to their human counterparts by analysing vast amount of data gathered from historical case studies in much shorter timeframes. Technology is dramatically changing the way we work and Lindfield Learning Village is preparing students for that future.”

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The reshaped environment of Lindfield Learning Village is envisaged to support and facilitate this vision and approach. Designed by DesignInc in collaboration with Lacoste+Stevenson and BMC2, the unique environment makes use of the old UTS Kuring-Gai Campus. The Brutalist campus opened in 1971 was designed by the NSW Government Architect’s Office as a ‘citadel on the hill.’ With off-form concrete, an internal processional street, rooftop gardens and landscaping integrated with the bush, the campus was heralded as a bold new education building and won the 1978 Sulman Medal for Public Architecture. The upgrades and adaptations for Lindfield Learning Village are respectful to the existing building language, while additions are clearly expressed through new geometries and materials. Use of bold colours and origami geometry clearly differentiates the ‘new’ from the ‘old’ but is also done in a way that can allow the original building to be reinstated if so desired.

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The layout of the school reflects the innovative teaching model and focus on collaboration. Rather than traditional classrooms, there are ‘waterhole’ spaces for large groups; ‘campfire’ spaces for small groups; and ‘caves’ for individual work. Landscaped terraces and courtyards provide outdoor learning opportunities, and the central “internal avenue” is a congregational space to bring students and teachers together.

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By adapting a university campus, Lindfield Learning Village has access to refurbished specialist facilities, such as an 800-seat auditorium, small lecture theatres, library, music and drama spaces, gymnasium and science labs. These have, and are being upgraded with new technologies and equipped to allow community usage out of school hours or during holidays.

This school is being deployed in stages to allow the education model to evolve. Teachers are being ‘educated’ in unlearning what they know, and will restructure their approach to engage individually with students more like a mentor and based on their individual needs.

When Lindfield Learning Village is completed over the next couple of years, it will cater to 2000 students with 200 teachers from kindergarten to Year 12.