Talking terminology

I like learning with different teachers, so I have my homeroom / base teacher but I like learning with the other teachers as well. What I don't like is you can't get away with anything because there are so many teachers and learning assistants that someone can see you all the time!

—     Jackson, student at Waitākiri School


In the past the Ministry used the term Modern Learning Environments. While this was intended to refer to the wider environment, for many it became synonymous with property upgrades and new buildings. Some also didn’t like the implications of ‘modern’.

So in mid-2015, the Ministry adopted the OECD’s term, Innovative Learning Environments, to refer the learning ecosystem, and Flexible Learning Spaces to refer to the infrastructure element of an Innovative Learning Environment.

Two conceptual models for the innovative learning environment

OECD’s Innovative Learning Environments

In 2013 the OECD published a report on Innovative Learning Environments.This publication proposes a ‘pedagogical core’ at the heart of each learning environment represented by four key elements and the dynamics between them. The publication represents the relationships as shown below:


In 2015, the OECD published a follow up report, ‘Schooling Redesigned: Towards Innovative Learning Systems’.

The OECD’s work is based on a strong foundation of research and aligns very closely with the National Curriculum. OECD recommends seven principles for innovative learning:

  • Make learning central, encourage engagement, and be where learners come to understand themselves as learners.
  • Ensure that learning is social and often collaborative.
  • Be highly attuned to learners’ motivations and the importance of emotions.
  • Be acutely sensitive to individual differences including prior knowledge.
  • Be demanding for each learner but without excessive overload
  • Use assessments consistent with these aims, with strong emphasis on formative feedback.
  • Promote horizontal connectedness across learning activities and subjects, in and out of school.

The 2015 paper provides a number of indicators to help you recognise when a learning environment is enacting each principle.

Core Education’s Educational Positioning System

Another representation of the total system is the Educational Positioning System (EPS) developed by Core Education and Dr Julia Atkin.


The EPS can be explored further on the Education Positioning System website

ILE is about much more than just property

Whether you find it in ‘Resources’ in the OECD model or ‘Physical and technical infrastructure’ in the EPS, it is clear that property is only a small, albeit costly, element of the total system.

For the best outcomes, all decisions at a school should flow from how it plans to deliver the requirements of the National Curriculum (it’s “Educational Vision”).