St Xavier’s Primary School’s $12 million infrastructure project will go to tender in 2019.
The overhaul will bring the Gunnedah school into the 21st century, and is six years and seven plans in the making.
The school is almost 140 years old and is growing – a trend which is being seen across the Armidale Diocese, but not nationally. Principal Jen Honner said the overhaul may even allow for a pre-school to be established in the long-term.
The infrastructure project will be funded by the Catholic Schools Office and the Capital Grants Program, with numerous sit-downs with Glendenning Szoboszlay Architects to nut out a plan.
“It wasn’t until the seventh plan that we agreed on what we wanted,” Ms Honner said.
“It’s not just about creating lovely spaces to be in; it’s a bit more complex.
“We want to create spaces that help create independent children.
“It’s really about developing their skills and values.”
The current proposal will see the current infant classrooms gutted and refurbished so they can be used for administration buildings and staff areas. The current administration and staff areas will be freed up and may house a pre-school in the future.
Two weatherboard buildings will be relocated – one on site and one to the grounds of St Joseph’s Catholic Church – and a new covered area will be established in front of the canteen and toilet blocks.
The current Kindergarten classrooms will move across, so they are on the corner of Henry and Bloomfield streets. A new block of classrooms will be built on a paved area of the playground, parallel to existing classrooms, which will be refurbished. The blocks will be linked by the library, which will run through the middle. The whole area will be closed in.
“The library will be the centre of the whole school so classes can branch out,” Ms Honner said.
The principal said the shuffle would streamline the school and connect different year groups and staff.
“It’s about becoming the one,” she said.
It will also align the layout with the existing collaborative classroom mould, which was introduced in late 2016.
The school did away with the traditional setting of one teacher to one class and multiple classes across year groups.
It removed classroom walls so all students from the same year formed one class in one space and were educated by two teachers.
The furniture was also replaced to provide functionality and flexibility.
“[Collaborative classrooms] work beautifully,” Ms Honner said.
“I think these spaces we’ve created here meet the needs of more children than they did in the past.
“The way we’re teaching now with two teachers enables the staff to teach them where they’re at.
“What I’ve really seen is kids making really good decisions about their learning.”
We want to create spaces that help create independent children.Jen Honner, St Xavier's Primary School principal
Ms Honner said technology had been another game-changer, enhancing learning and creating “opportunities for kids to work at their own level”.
The principal said the school would host an information night for parents in 2019 to inform them of the progress of the infrastructure project and how it would affect students.