Aligning space with teaching and learning: Ideas from Kunskapsskolan

Successful schools align the space with teaching and learning – in other words, space supports and motivates new dynamics in the way that teachers and pupils work together.

(from The Centre for School Design) 


I am working on the itinerary for a study tour we are hosting in October this year, to take a group of educational leaders to places that have influenced our work at SCIL and learning at Northern Beaches Christian School. We will go to Europe and the UK, visiting award-winning museums and libraries, places where people choose to go to learn, that provide personalised and hands-on learning opportunities and are a place for community connection and fun. We will also visit schools that represent innovation in design and pedagogy.

I have been communicating with a peer from the UK.  In her last email, she wrote:

The other possibility for you to consider, as you are keen to experience innovation in education, is Kunskapsskolan which is based in Sweden and operates several schools in the UK… we have adopted some of their practices

It has been interesting to read about the Kunskapsskolan model and I discovered that this approach to school and student learning is consistent with the NBCS/SCIL direction.

What struck me from our visits and speaking to architects…is that it is an audacious imaginative vision of refurbishment and reuse of buildings. So, an old submarine factory or lightbulb factory or redundant space is completely gutted and re-imagined as a variety of learning spaces, rather than just classrooms. They are ‘classroom-plus schools’. (from The Centre for School Design)


Kunskapsskolan was established in 1999 and means “Knowledge School”. In Sweden it operates 30 schools for students aged 12-18. The model is based on a personalised learning focused on a student-centred approach to teaching. The Academies program in the UK facilitated the international expansion of the Kunskapsskolan model. There are three schools in the UK– Hampton Community College, Whitton School and Holywells High School.

There are now plans for the model to be implemented in *New York.

In a number of ways the Kunskapsskolan model operates along the lines of a primary school – one teacher may work with a student across a number of subject areas.

From the Kunskapsskolan UK website, here are the key points to the model:

Personalised learning focused with a student-centred approach to teaching

Each student develops a learning and attainment plan

Students of different ages may be on the same ‘step’ or working at the same level

Students to work at their own pace


Rooms for learning of different sizes are available for individual studies, for conversations in couples or small groups, or for a class with about 20 pupils

2-3 large scale lectures held each week

Parents are able to monitor the progress of their children through the online reporting system

Curriculum is delivered wholly through a thematic approach

Schools have an overall timetable and each student has their own individual timetable

Student welfare and behaviour management is rigorous and provides for ‘earned autonomy’

Students to work in a variety of ways

In Sweden, students are able to work from home from time to time

Schools do stay open outside the normal school day to allow students to spend time on their studies

Teachers spend the majority of their time as learning mentors

Curriculum resources are developed collaboratively across schools and shared through the portal

Cafe acts as a natural meeting place for pupils and teachers with space for both work and relaxation


If you would like to find out more visit:

Swedish site, with a link ‘In English’ –

Kunskapsskolan UK website –

Wikipedia –

*Kunskapsskolan in the news – NYC is next:

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