'There's a lot of noise and distraction' - Many educators unconvinced of benefits from open-plan mega classrooms

Quite literally, the "corridors" of learning are disappearing for modern school children with the increasingly common open-plan classroom.

Carolyn Robinson looks at the debate over modern learning environments - large open-plan classrooms with several classes together. Source: Seven Sharp

The technical term for them is "modern learning environments" and it's a trend towards holding multiple classes, with multiple teachers, simultaneously in one large space.

But many educators and parents are extremely skeptical about whether they actually benefit student learning.

Ponsonby Primary Principal Anne Malcolm is one of these.

"My problem is that we're building these great big open spaces without any evidence at all that they'll change what happens for children," Ms Malcolm says.

"We're at a very, very early stage, and if we don't use the evidence that's coming out of the theory to change what we're doing in our schools, before we go into these environments, it's kind of like building aeroplanes in the sky.

"My opinion is that five-six year olds are better off with their one teacher most of the time, so they can have that really direct connection. I think teachers have to really know their child."

Parent Greer Robson was also not a fan, and moved her six-year-old from one them.

"He'd wake up and the first thing he'd say to me is 'you can't make me go to school today mummy, I don't want to go, I hate school'," Ms Rosbon says.

"There's a lot of noise and distraction and you don't just have one teacher understanding the nuances of one child and what makes them tick."

Now in a class of 23 versus 85, Ms Robson says her son is thriving.

But there are proponents of the new open-plan breed of schools, such as Auckland’s Hobsonville Point Primary, built just four years ago.

"For me it's what you see in newspapers when they advertise jobs," Principal Daniel Birch says.

"They want problem solvers, creative collaborators, they want people who can build relationships and work alongside others and we believe that too."