Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

Intensive Learning Centre, Mid North Coast Correctional Centre, Corrective Services NSW, Aldavilla NSW , Australia

Exemplary design categories: flexible learning settings, furniture, outdoor spaces, safety, special needs provision, technology rich

How the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
The physical design of the Intensive Learning Centre seeks to place inmates in the role of an active learner. In design and operation, the ILC is informed by indigenous learning processes and 21st century pedagogy around project based, collaborative learning. The Intensive Learning Centre (ILC) seeks to provide inmates with an opportunity to view themselves and their futures differently by creating a supportive and aspirational environment for learning fundamental skills in literacy and numeracy. Creating and connecting communities was a driving intention in the design of the facility. Community is conceived at multiple scales from individual, peer group, classroom, school, prison to ultimately the communities where the men in the program come from. Typically prison environments are structured around separating men and women from their communities and limiting associations. In contrast, the Intensive Learning Centre is designed around a philosophy that meaningful, productive relationships are critical to learning and to the enablement of rehabilitative change. This intention is realized in the design in a number of ways, first to create a welcoming, structured and vibrant community aesthetic that places both educator and learner in productive, positive roles around collaborative learning. Second to create scalable classroom design that supports learning and interaction at multiple levels from individual, small group to combined classrooms. Third, to integrate technology including smart boards, laptops and audio-visual equipment to support learning and to bring the issues and challenges within the wider community into the classroom. Fourth to recognise Aboriginal communities and learning processes in the design of the classroom, furnishings and outdoor areas such as the yarning circle. Fifth, to create designed-in capacity for customization such as interchangeable art panels on furnishings that allow each cohort to build ownership and establish connection with the environment. Finally by interlinking indoor and outdoor learning spaces that create a unique sense of community and connectedness.

Involvement of users and the local community in the planning and design process:
Lead by the Designing Out Crime @ UTS design team, fundamental to the project was a process of co-design and consultation with inmates, teachers, correctional centre management staff, and senior managers in Corrective Services NSW. The design process commenced with site visits, and inmate and staff interviews. Part of this process included a group of inmates in an existing education class sketching their ideal ‘learning environment’. Features of these sketches included a walking track, gardens, interactive media room, outdoor picnic tables and classrooms interlinked with decking. After the onsite co-design processes, an intensive one-day workshop involving 15 stakeholders was held at the university. The workshop led to a new-shared frame of ‘connection to community’; a place with a completely different “feel”, emphasizing co-operation, flexibility, learning, and empathy. Building on the new frame, the challenge for the design team was to develop architectural, furnishing and landscaping concepts that responded to the intentions and aspirations of the stakeholders. The concepts also needed to be designed so that inmate employees within prison industries could build them. This included inmate employees making the pre-fabricated classroom modules, the furniture, the site landscaping and even the security fencing around the facility. Attached are images of the classrooms being constructed at a prison industry, and then, after being transported 400 km, craned into the facility where they currently reside. In April 2014 the ILC opened at the Mid North Coast Correctional facility. Initial responses from staff and inmates have been overwhelmingly positive, although like many design projects some small issues have been identified. The project team undertook a formal post-occupancy evaluation of the facility. Feedback from teachers and inmate learners obtained through the evaluation will be used to inform future iterations of the ILC design for other Correctional Centres in NSW. Additional information and reports related to the project can be found at: http://designingoutcrime.com/project/csi-intensive-learning-centres/

Activity Areas: Multi-purpose classrooms (4) Library Staff office Kitchen space Outdoor learning spaces Outdoor indigenous space

Project costs: USD 1,600,000.00

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User perspectives (11)

“I’ve been in and out of jails since I was 18 – I’m 41 now – and this is the first time I’ve seen an education program like this put into any of the jails.”
ILC Inmate Learner
In response to the question “How have you changed in the ILC”? “Use of handwriting for the first time in a very long time. Improved art skills. Refocussed and enjoying simple things, and maths etc. Enjoy some homework to keep active. I AM READING LOTS OF BOOKS!”
ILC Inmate Learner
“Well I think I have made some achievable goals. Set my mind on things for the future. Has changed my headspace very positive.”
ILC Inmate Learner
“I’ve got no doubts the facility, the layout, the materials used will have a positive effect on inmate education…..Over the last 3 months just hearing from the inmates how it makes them feel when they simply come from that yard there into this facility on a daily basis – how relaxed they feel, how they feel part of an education or learning community and their sense of ownership over the facility as well”
ILC Educator 1
“Its very different, I’ve found it very satisfying here. You can see by the design – the open space – the light, its very different to the rest of the jail. As soon as the inmates come here – its out of routine, its something different where they can be in touch with the environment – they can see the sky, you can see the trees. As you saw this morning we are able to engage with things like the news and current events as they are happening.”
ILC Educator 2
“We can be a lot more interactive and creative in the way we do things.”
ILC Educator 2
“The guys come in here and after they have been here for a while they know it is a safe, supportive learning environment. And I think that’s the most important environment we can create for them.”
ILC Educator 2
“Teaching out there (standard education in the prison) you’d get 3 or 4 certificate completions per semester, in here we got 7 or 8 ( per class of 10 students).”
ILC Educator 3
“Designers, inmates, teachers, staff and senior managers all shared the undoubted belief that appropriately designed learning environments can play a key role in driving transformational change”.
ILC Designer
“As a useable space for inmates and teaching I thinks its fantastic – and I think it’s had some positive results.”
Prison Management
• Most learners (72%) agreed with the statement “In comparison to other places where I have attended education, the design of this Intensive Learning Centre makes it easier for me to learn in class”. • Most teachers, 80%, agreed the design of the Intensive Learning Centre made it easier to be an effective teacher and easier to engage inmates.
Excerpts from ILC Evaluation Report (pg. 30)

Images (16)

Drawings (6)

Concept plan (Registration required)
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Concept section (Registration required)
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Plan (Registration required)
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Roof line (Registration required)
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Tables - t1 (Registration required)
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Tables - t2 (Registration required)
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