Modernising a 110-year-old school without losing its historic character is a challenge for Tauranga Primary School.

The school, like others in Tauranga, is moving towards a Modern Learning Environment (MLE), with open-plan classrooms and collaborative teaching, but has the extra challenge of keeping its iconic old-fashioned look.

Principal Fiona Hawes said the school had begun the transition to MLEs and had converted one classroom for collaborative teaching, but there were still improvements that needed to be made.

"The school has a long history. It has beautiful old pavilion buildings and we want to maintain that history and link to the classes. However, the classes look how they did when we went to school."


She said all of the students at the school were born in the 21st century and the teaching spaces had to reflect that.

Some work towards this goal had already been completed. Two adjoining classrooms at the school had their shared wall removed to create one large classroom with two teachers sharing the space, enabling them to share lessons and cater to differing abilities of students.

Mrs Hawes said she had looked at what other long-standing schools in the Bay had done to modernise their environments, such as Pahoia and Maungatapu.

"We're looking at collaborative teaching rather than one teacher working how to best meet the needs of the students. When you have two teachers working together they learn off each other and are not alone in trying to nut out how to best move a group of kids along. It's trying to utilise the best of everyone's ability."

Hand in hand with collaborative teaching came the need for extra space. Two teachers shared one big space and children could sit where they wanted. Mrs Hawes said children naturally gravitated towards certain places, some preferring to sit at a table with classmates, others preferring a quiet space on the floor.

To cater for this, the classes would also need to be widened.

Mrs Hawes said she would want to retain school landmarks such as its belltower.