Teaching in a modular world

Te Awamutu College would have started teaching lessons in its hall had modular classrooms not arrived on site at the end of 2021.

“Gone are the days where a teacher will have a classroom for the four of five classes they teach, and then it will sit empty for the sixth period,” deputy principal Wayne Carter told The News.

Two years ago, Te Awamutu College notified the Ministry of Education that their roll was growing, and the school was quickly approaching its capacity.

The total roll is closing in on 1400 students.

Initially they applied for an enrolment scheme, which would have allowed the school to decline out of zone applications.

Instead, the college received three modular classrooms to accommodate their rapid roll growth. They were allocated through the Ministry of Education’s National Education Growth Plan.

“They worked really hard with us to make sure we had them for the start of the year,” Carter said. “They knew that without them, we would probably have had to have classes taught in the hall, and we had that contingency up our sleeves.”

The three classrooms were moved to the school last November.

“It was fascinating watching them moving the buildings on the trucks,” Carter said.

They were then joined to create a single block of rooms. They got it “millimetre perfect,” and the seam between the rooms, designated M 5, 6 and 7, is not noticeable.

“The ministry has been outstanding, as well as the company Builtsmart, the company in Huntly who actually construct the classrooms.”

The modular rooms are feature rich. An attached deck acts as an outdoor seating area where the students can sit in shade. The rooms are double glazed, and are fitted with heat pumps, Wi-Fi, and carbon dioxide sensors.

Carter said carbon dioxide sensors are multipurpose. In a pre-covid world they would have been used to inform teachers of how ‘stuffy’ rooms were. As increased carbon dioxide levels make students feel sleepy and makes learning more difficult.

“In Covid times, increased carbon dioxide levels represent a need for increased ventilation to flush out whatever particles that may be around,” Carter said.

He said upon their arrival, he cupped his hands around one of the sensors and breathed into it to test how it would respond. He believes that it will be standard practice to have these sensors installed in future classrooms.

A security camera was also installed into the block, adding to the schools pre-existing surveillance system. The system has helped to eliminate after hours vandalism as well as settle in-school disputes.

He attributes the school’s rapid roll growth to its success over the past 10 years. Results are now above the national average, and the vast majority view the college as a first choice.

“With that, it means there are fewer kids who are travelling out of town… You go back 20 or so years, there were over 200 kids a day who would bus out to Hamilton.”

The college is still trying to get their enrolment scheme processed and are already thinking out where future modular classrooms can be installed if they were required.

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