Building Connections is investigating how best to plan, design, govern and manage schools to operate successfully as ‘more than a school’, encouraging the development of resilient and connected communities.
Schools are some of the most underutilised assets in Australia. Many are used sparingly outside of school hours. Furthermore, the co-location of school infrastructure with other forms of social infrastructure, such as sporting, recreation and health services facilities, is not as common as might be expected. Nevertheless, school sites are increasingly being recognised as valuable assets that can support the education, health and wellbeing of individuals, families and community groups – especially in rapidly growing areas of Australia’s largest cities and regional centres.
In the next decade, Australia will need up to 700 new schools to meet the demands of a growing population. This presents a significant opportunity to embed new knowledge about the role that indoor and outdoor spaces can play in developing and supporting communities across the country. The project aims to inform decision making about how new and existing school infrastructure can be used for broader community benefit. Building Connections commenced in June 2019 and will run until mid-2022.
The primary output of the research will be the Building Connections: Schools as Community Hubs Development Framework. This will provide policy guidance to help state governments, non-government school systems, local councils, schools and community organisations overcome the obstacles that commonly limit the use of school facilities for broader community benefit.
The Framework aims to provide evidence-based advice on school infrastructure provision and management, with a focus on programs and services that may be offered in addition to formal schooling.
The project has been funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects scheme. Total funding includes $629,331 from the ARC and $495,000 from Partner Organisations.
The ARC Linkage Projects scheme promotes national and international collaboration between higher education institutions, government, business, industry and end-users. Research and development focusses on applying specialist knowledge to ‘real world’ problems to generate relevant and timely insights. Building Connections will contribute in significant and substantial ways to this overarching objective