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Thought Leaders in Education and Learning Spaces

Thought Leaders in Education are the best designers when it comes to understanding how learning spaces are used. They have a deep understanding as to the “why” and “how” teaching and learning is undertaken in schools and tertiary facilities. BFX develops active partnerships with education leaders to ensure that we design, specify, and supply learning spaces that ensures maximum student and teacher engagement and wellbeing. 

Our Trusted Advisers

Sam Gourley leaders

Sam Gourley

Paediatric Occupational Therapist & founder

Collaborative Partnerships

Hi, my name is Sam Gourley and I am a Paediatric Occupational Therapist and founder of Collaborative Partnerships. We offer a comprehensive allied health and early intervention service. We aim to support all children, so that they can engage in all the fun and learning that childhood has to offer.

I am particularly passionate about supporting children with disabilities in educational settings.

For a child with special needs to be available for learning, they first need to have their additional physical, emotional, and sensory needs met. Furniture plays an important role in this, and that’s why I am pleased to partner with BFX for their Inclusive Education Initiative.

jill willis

Professor Jill Willis

Queensland University of Technology

Queensland University of Technology

Jill Willis is an Associate Professor in Education. Her research investigates how learners of all ages can be supported to experience greater success and agency. She researches about learning spaces, assessment for learning and leadership and how these interact. Jill enjoys real world collaborations with teachers, students, and industry partners to create new knowledge about great learning. 

You can read some free to access copies of her published works and a book about how learning spaces can enhance wellbeing

BFX Furniture are delighted to be part of ground-breaking research in conjunction with Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) ARC Linkage Project team under the leadership of A/Professor Jill Willis, working with key Architects and leading Educators.  The research will explore “The impact of urban vertical schools on students’ capability and wellbeing”.

The three vertical high schools that will be studied from 2022 to 2024 are Fortitude Valley State Secondary College, QLD, Prahan High School, VICas well as Adelaide Botanic High School, SA.

Research Summary: Urban vertical schools are new types of schools in Australia. There are no evidence-based Australian precedents to guide designers or educators, no formal knowledge sharing processes that draw on experiences of pioneers, and little understanding of what these spaces mean for student capability and wellbeing. This evaluative case study will bring together evidence from designers, educators and students in three newly built urban, vertical schools. Project findings will point to inclusive principles for designing and leading in physical, digital and social school spaces to maximise student wellbeing and capability. Insights into student experiences in urban, vertical school spaces will have value for infrastructure spending in all schools.

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Dr Anne Knock

educational consultant

The Learning Future

Dr Anne Knock is an educator, facilitator, and coach who enables profound shifts in strategy, leadership, culture and pedagogy. She has depth of knowledge of the international education landscape and regularly connects with a global community of like-minded professionals. At The Learning Future, Anne leads programs and projects to help educators, leaders and organisations step into the future through strategic design and learning experiences that optimistically chart a path ahead in our increasingly complex world.

Anne holds a PhD in Education from The Univeristy of Melbourne with a focus in complexity theory, revealing how to craft successful and sustainable practice and culture in innovative learning environments. She also routinely supports education leaders and architects to develop school masterplans and design briefs.

Commencing as a primary teacher, Anne has experience in community development, school system administration, and school-based innovation consultancy. Anne also leads the executive coaching and learning tour aspects of The Learning Future, supporting schools and organisations to integrate the cutting edge of school design, philosophy and practice.

Having worked and toured leaders across multiple continents, Anne has depth of knowledge of the international education landscape and regularly connects with a global community of like-minded professionals.. 

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Tina Curtis

Exercise Physiologist

Tina Curtis Exercise Physiology

Hi, I’m Tina Curtis and I’m an Exercise Physiologist. Within my role I help people daily with workplace related pain and injury. Postural fatigue is a common problem for workers who sit for extended periods of time.

Furniture plays an important role supporting and encouraging postural endurance and health. That is why I’m pleased to partner with BFX for their Workplace Wellbeing Initiative. 

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Paul O’Neill

Paul is a freelance strategic education learning and development consultant based in Bangkok. Paul has worked in education for over 30 years beginning as a high school teacher. He has worked in Primary, Special Education, and Early Childhood and in higher education in the Bachelor of Learning Management Program at Central Queensland University.

Over the last twelve years Paul has worked internationally. Firstly, in a large U.S. college preparatory school in Japan and then, in the design and development of a new, highly progressive startup school in Bangkok, which opened in 2020.

In both of these cases, a significant challenge was to reimagine existing learning spaces or to create completely new learning spaces in a new school environment with a break away curriculum.
Paul is currently exploring the market for Future Focused Learning spaces in International Schools in SE Asia. He is also consulting with schools in learning space design and in the area of learner agency and personal branding.

derek bartels

Derek Bartels

Director - Innovation & Technology

Lutheran Education Queensland

Derek Bartels is the driving force behind innovation in Queensland Lutheran schools. He has drawn from the most up-to-date research globally to lead educators to innovate according to their individual school contexts. Derek promotes and encourages innovative practices through face-to-face interaction, public speaking, social media and study tours. 

As a direct result of Derek’s leadership and passion for innovation, Queensland Lutheran schools are leading the way in contemporary and innovative practices in pedagogy, physical learning spaces and technology. Derek’s influence also extends to other sectors and industries not only in Australia but worldwide.

peter webster

Dr Peter Webster


Catholic Learning Community

Dr Peter Webster is the Principal at St John XXIII Catholic College, Stanhope Gardens, NSW. The College is at the frontier of learning and has transformed learning and learning spaces across its K-12 Community. Connecting and encouraging every student and staff member so that they can flourish and be the very best person they can be. The College proactively co-adapts, co-creates, and transforms in ever changing local and global ecosystems.

The College was recognised in 2019 as one of the most innovative schools in the world. The College hosts many local and global visitors who come to witness the theory put into practice. Peter has influenced the development of learning environments and has spoken nationally and internationally on this topic.

Take a look at the “New New School” Case Study which how students and staff members interact in their transformed learning spaces.

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Neville Blackman

BFX Indigenous Adviser

Neville Blackman was appointed Indigenous Engagement Adviser to BFX in November 2021.

Neville is a Sunshine Coast local with ancestral connections to the Iman, Gangulu, Gooreng Gooreng and Kabi Kabi nations. He is also a descendant of the South Sea Islands of Santo, Pentecost, Malo and Ambae. Neville’s European connections are through the Blackman brothers who were settlers in regional Queensland.

Neville has extensive community engagement history and has enjoyed success working in the employment, training, and community sectors. He has also worked in cultural heritage roles primarily in the location and identification of significant sites and their preservation for future generations.

Neville is passionate about connecting people to First Nations’ culture through immersive experiences, walking the cultural landscape and is sharing his knowledge of cultural landscapes with BFX to help grow our team’s cultural competency.

“My goal is to increase the capacity of First Nations and non-Indigenous community members to engage and relate with each other with mutual respect and appreciation for each’s perspective and experience.

My focus is to show respect to Country and community members. I strive to connect community members to Country which will enhance their individual and collective well-being. I aim to encourage empowerment and self-determination in community members to establish and maintain stronger families and communities.” Neville Blackman


4C Transformative Learning

4C Transformative Learning are experts at supporting schools as they navigate the opportunities and challenges of transformation. Over the past 5 years, they have partnered with more than 60 primary and secondary schools, early learning centres and universities nationally and internationally to support the transformation of curriculum, pedagogy, learning, values and ongoing teacher education. 

4C Transformative Learning g provides focused professional learning, mentoring and leadership support to make transformation an achievable reality. Go to to find out more. 

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