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Plus school

Practice-oriented research into powerful learning environments in school buildings in Flanders.

Client /

Ministerie van Onderwijs en Vorming. Afdeling Strategische Beleidsondersteuning. Vlaamse overheid.


Interfacultair Departement Lerarenopleiding (IDLO) van de Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).


Marina Berbel

Maruxa Touceda

Year / 

2018 - in progress

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“You can’t expect children to learn 21st-century skills in schools built for the 1950s. We need schools designed for 21st-century success.»  (Chad P. Wick, head of the Knowledge Works Foundation)

Which schools do we need in the 21st century? What should future learning environments look like? What is the place for ‘traditional’ classrooms? Which competences are important to prepare students for a rapidly changing society? Such questions are central in the current education debate.  In July 2015, the Flemish Government approved the concept memorandum of the Masterplan Scholenbouw: ‘Building together a stronger school heritage’. The aim is to adapt the physical learning environment to the educational challenges and learning styles that characterize the 21st century. Education is often expected to teach the necessary knowledge and skills to function in this new society to its pupils; the whole of these skills is described as 21st century skills.

The Onderwijs en Vorming (Education and Training) department of Flanders has commissioned to the partnership of  Vrije Universiteit Brussel and + ReseARCH the project “krachtige fysieke leeromgevingen voor de 21ste eeuw”.
The aim of this project is to explore how the physical learning environment can be used as optimally and flexibly as possible to provide an answer to these changing educational needs, to stimulate the development of these 21st century skills, and what should be considered at the school level.

The main result of this project will be an operational, inspirational guide that can serve as an instrument for shaping powerful physical learning environments for the 21st century in existing schools.

This guide presents several proposals, practical solution, best practices, complemented with the corresponding success conditions, and illustrated with real cases (in Belgium and abroad) that can be applied within the Flemish context, and on which the school team can base their discussions. The proposal will inspire and sensitize architects, principals, building managers, etc. on low-cost, high-impact transformations tailored to their needs, within the framework and limitations of the physical and financial norms. The guide also provides guidance on the risks and threatens to ensure a successful result.

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