The MNCCC Intensive Learning Centre is an education facility consisting of four classrooms, a library, amenity area, staff office and landscaped grounds including multi-level timber decking, a yarn circle, walking track and gardens. Most of the furniture and buildings were constructed by Correctional Service Industries. It is designed to operate with forty inmate learners, five educators, a correctional officer and an education manager. This report focuses on the evaluation of the ILC facility against relevant functional performance criteria and the original design intentions, with recommendations for the design of the current and future Intensive Learning Centre facilities. We include summaries of the assessment of technical and process performance as appendices.
A staged mixed methods approach was used to evaluate the MNCCC Intensive Learning Centre where for each user group we first administered a survey, followed by a walk-through interview, and then a focus group with a sub- sample of users. Participants in the research included inmate learners, educators, correctional staff and managers involved in the operation of the MNCCC Intensive Learning Centre during its first year of operation.
Overall building users’ responses and reported experiences of the ILC facility were positive, although participants also identified contentious aspects and aspects of the facility that were not working well.
In terms of what is working well about the design of the facility, inmate learners, educators and correctional staff all clearly indicated;
- the design supported the learning and therapeutic aspirations of the program. This is a critical finding as it represents a key intention and objective of CSNSW in the brief for the facility
- key environmental conditions (lighting, temperature, acoustics, ventilation) and aesthetics of the classroom resulted in a comfortable and positive classroom space
- the Smart-board technology’s value in creating opportunities for learning and engagement
- the deck area and gardens create a relaxed, sensory space differentiated from the rest of the prison
Contentious aspects of the facility design and construction included the design of the learner desks and the build quality and value. The large majority of learners strongly liked the unique design of the desks, while the educators questioned there functionality in terms of configuration options. Educators also raised more issues and criticisms with the quality of the construction and design of the facility.