How to hub: Schools as community hubs

By Judy Bruce

‘How to Hub Australia’ is a user friendly toolkit designed by researchers and practitioners. The toolkit is a guide for school leaders and designers who are interested in strengthening partnerships and community connections further. In this article we explore the resource ideas further.

Increasingly, schools are interested in strengthening existing, and developing new, partnerships and community connections. Reasons for this are varied including concerns for greater environmental sustainability, social equity, and community connectivity. The University of Melbourne has led a significant project, Building Connections: Schools as Community Hubs.

The guiding research question was:

How can we improve the design of school facilities and extend their use to support stronger communities and better education? 

Schools as Community Hubs, University of Melbourne, Building Connections Project. — Image by: University of Melbourne

The research has now been condensed into a user-friendly resource for school leaders and designers of spaces. How to Hub Australia has application and relevance for Aotearoa New Zealand school settings.

Every school already has existing community connections and partnerships, and each context is completely unique. Many school leaders are interested in exploring new ways of growing their school as a community hub. Based on the research, there are six principles that underpin effective design, and there are 12 factors. The following image indicates these. 

How to Hub Australia: Schools as Community Hubs — Image by: University of Melborne

In the How to Hub resource, each of the factors is unpacked, and guidelines for school leaders and designers are provided. Through out the resource school case studies are also available.

Tārai Kura, in conjunction with LENZ, hosted a webinar with Dr Ben Cleveland from the University of Melbourne to learn more about the Schools as Community Hubs project (2022). If you would like to learn more, this webinar video provides a great summary of the project. 

We are interested in hearing from schools in Aotearoa New Zealand schools who would be interested in sharing their stories of community hubs, and also from schools interested in learning more about ‘How to Hub”. In 2024 Tārai Kura will be exploring this idea further.