New Schools

From fairer funding came four new schools in just one year.

 

‘Together we can do great things’ (Mother Teresa).

 

Our steadfast campaign for a fairer funding model with $1 billion over 10 years saw 2018 reap many fruits of our labour.

 

More specifically, we were able to open not one, not two, not three, but four new schools in one year. That’s four times our typical average of one new school per year.

 

The new, fairer funding model meant we were finally able to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population in the north and west of Melbourne, where Catholic education was in great demand. This involved the construction of four new P–6 primary schools:

  • Lisieux Catholic Primary School, Torquay North
  • Oscar Romero Catholic Primary School, Craigieburn West
  • Our Lady of the Way Catholic Primary School, Wallan East
  • St Mary MacKillop Catholic Primary School, Bannockburn.

 

The key emphasis of construction was to provide the following facilities:

  • flexible learning spaces: multi-use environments to accommodate a range of needs (such as performance, arts/crafts or science areas; instructional spaces for small and large groups; quiet, reflective sacred spaces; gathering spaces for parents; staff/administration facilities; and teacher planning areas)
  • links from indoor to outdoor environments
  • grounds for passive and active play, shaded areas for learning and playing, and gardens for purposes of aesthetics and practicality (i.e. growing produce)
  • a community gathering space.

 

St Mary MacKillop Catholic Primary School was refurbished as part of our 2018 construction boom. In accordance with this phase of a ‘master plan’ for the short, medium and longer term improvement of the existing facilities and site, these refurbishments allowed for a capacity of 200 students within a total of eight general learning areas.

 

In the lead-up to the 2018 State Election, both the Labor and Liberal parties made commitments to continue the Andrews Government’s Capital Funding Program for Non-government Schools. As a result, the state government will provide $400 million in capital funding to Catholic and other non-government schools across Victoria over the current four-year term. This alone represents a substantial increase from the 2014 program.

 

Funding will be available across two project categories:

  • building new schools and expanding capacity at existing schools experiencing enrolment demand
  • upgrading facilities in existing schools according to need.

 

The Victorian Catholic sector expects to receive a minimum of $70 million per year of the $100 million per annum funding pool. Within the first year’s pool, there are 14 election commitment projects with a total grant of $30 million for Catholic schools. Needless to say, this program is a significant opportunity to fund capital works in Catholic schools, address aging infrastructure, and provide capacity for enrolment increases in new schools and growth corridors.

 

In short, a fairer and more fruitful future for Catholic schools going forward.

Toward Effective Learning Environments

 

This three-year collaborative research initiative was one of the largest studies (43 learning environments and 38 schools) evaluating the relationships between the built environment, teachers and students. In brief, the study concluded that the best learning environments (design) and pedagogies (use) occurred where walls between adjoining classrooms are flexible enough to allow the entire learning environment to be transformed into one large space, or progressively closed-down into smaller spaces/classrooms. The study emphasised nine complementary principles in design and learning:

 

  • dynamic social and physical environment
  • variety and choice in settings and activities
  • capacity to differentiate learning experiences
  • access to multiple learning settings
  • space for instruction, interaction and reflective retreat
  • options to socially organise students in varied ways
  • good acoustics, especially in more open spaces
  • good sightlines for monitoring activities
  • design that recognises the physical, organisational, temporal and cultural histories of the school, and allows pedagogical development without alienating teachers from their past practices.

 

This research was recognised by the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training as being of considerable value to advancing good school design.