KPO Child Center De Stappen in Wouw is in no way reminiscent of a traditional school. No corridors, no classrooms, but a large, bright open space with many playful elements, such as a climbing wall staircase. There are places where children are taught together, quiet corners where they can work themselves, and places to work together. Director Rini Damen: “We wanted to get rid of the classroom school system. Not all children of the same age have the same level, and we want to give each child individual attention. We did not yet know exactly how to shape this new education. While we started with During the construction process, the slider moved more and more to the right: from classroom teaching to a system that takes into account children’s talents. Therefore, we wanted spaces that allow flexible teaching methods. “
The design phase and the construction phase
Five years ago, De Stappen’s pedagogical vision had not yet crystallized, but the program and the design process were already underway. Wouter Houët, senior consultant, and Arthur van Kempen, senior project manager, believed that there should still be room in the design phase to make adjustments and to further develop the new training concept. Arthur van Kempen: “Kindcentrum De Stappen was the inspiration for HEVO’s My School concept. In this concept, we do not go step by step from a Schedule of Requirements to the design phase and then to the construction phase, but we organize a much more form-free process. the design phase of De Stappen, we showed the school team what is possible. insight. “
“A new school building is the perfect moment for educational innovation,” says Kees Mens, school administrator at KPO. “It is also necessary because there are too few staff and we like to give children individual attention. Not everyone in the De Stappen team was immediately enthusiastic about the new vision of education that would result in a school building without classrooms. We went and looked at the jenaplan school De Spaaihoeve in Eindhoven, a school that also works with an open concept.When we saw how the teaching was given there and we heard the teachers’ enthusiastic stories, all were supporters of the new form of education and work in an open space. “
KPO set up a fund so that it can also offer childcare in addition to regular education. This means that children from zero to twelve years can walk on De Stappen. The advantage is that the teaching staff can follow the children from an early age.
In primary school, work is done in units. Children aged four to six sit together in a unit, as do children aged seven to ten and children aged eleven and twelve. A day starts with a meeting in the tribal group of which the child is a part. Then it is discussed what the children should do that day, and then the teacher explains the lesson material. Some children then move to another group in their unit to attend classes appropriate to their level. Then the children get started: independently or with others.
Rini Damen: “At first glance it may seem chaotic, but the teaching is more tightly organized than when it is taught in class. We also have a much better picture of the children because we look at a student with all the teachers in one unit. The unit team discusses the children and the lessons half an hour after each working day The teachers are happy that it is finally again about education and not about administration, group plans and how busy it is.I expect this way of teaching will reduce the workload in the long run We notice already that the children are thriving We have recently held a parents’ evening and we heard from all sides that the children are coming home very excited. They are happier, talk more and are more motivated. It’s great to hear. “
De Stappen is also very innovative in the field of sustainability. During the design process, HEVO was given room for more ambition. Arthur van Kempen: “This is surface sustainability!” The starting point was to achieve a sustainability score of GPR 7.5, in the end a score of 8.2 was achieved by focusing on more sustainable use of materials. The whole school, with the exception of the steel columns, is made of wood.
Kees Mens: “In the beginning we were a little hesitant about so much wood. Doesn’t it get very noisy when three hundred children are taught? Therefore, a lot has been invested in the acoustics, with a great result. There is peace here. Construction concept and teaching method the most innovative school in KPO.We have 21 schools, 10 of which are ready for a new construction.You can bet that all the principals and school teams are curious about this concept and come to take a look.The educational world is conservative “but if they walk around here and talk to the teachers, it would not surprise me if they get really excited. The steps will act as a flywheel.”
By: National Education Guide