Buildings progress at learning sites

By ANDY BENNETT*

THE new school year is off to a flying start and development of the Federation is keeping pace with the most obvious sign of progress – the building work currently underway on five sites.On the Bridgewater High School campus, construction of the new Trade Training Centre began on February 1. All being well, construction will be completed on September 17 and courses will begin at the start for the 2011 school year. The Tasmanian Polytechnic is the lead organisation in managing the Centre’s construction program.

Further down Green Point Road, foundation work for the school and community gymnasium is nearing completion and we will soon see the framework and walls appear. We aim to have the gymnasium ready for use by the start of Term 2 on June 14.

Behind the current high school building a double classroom terrapin has been re-located from another school and is currently being fitted out. It will be ready for occupation by our Grade 10 students on March 8. That is a very important development because it will clear space in the main building to begin the building works that will transform the current high school into a purpose-built Grade 5 to 8 Middle School.

Building work at East Derwent Primary School is all but finished. The new flexible classrooms are completed and operating. The new early years classrooms including associated outdoor areas and the extended multi- purpose hall and gymnasium will be ready for use by the time this edition of the Brighton Community news is published.

At Herdsmans Cove Primary, the multi-purpose hall/gymnasium has been completed and is in use. The new early years classrooms and phase one of the adjoining landscaping work will be completed by the end of March if not sooner.

Some initial minor work has been undertaken at Gagebrook Primary. The major re-development will see the addition of new flexible school and community learning spaces; the re-development of the school library as a technology centre and the remodelling of the entry foyer and offices Work begins at the start of April when tradespeople are freed up on completion of the Herdsmans Cove project.

We are currently working with our architect to complete design plans for the Big Picture School for Grade 9 to 12 learners. They are in final draft form and we aim to begin work on March 17. The final component on the Bridgewater campus, the Performing Arts Centre, will be built alongside the new gymnasium. A construction program for that building has yet to be finalised, but will be timed to follow completion of the Big Picture school buildings.

That all adds up to a lot of activity, but the building program is just the most obvious sign of the changes we are making. Our staff are also working on developing their teaching programs and practices to meet the vision of the Federation. Our Grade 9 Big Picture teaching team, Mandy Gardner, Phil Oddie, Andrew MacKay, David Flanagan, Cluny Addis, Eve Mills and our principal Rosanne McDade gave up the last week of their school holidays to attend intensive training with Big Picture Australia officers in order to be prepared to begin our Big Picture pilot program with our Grade 9 students. The pilot program is up and running. Similarly, staff from Herdsmans Cove Primary attended intensive professional learning with internationally respected educator Kath Murdoch to further develop their skills in delivering inquiry based personalised learning.

Another exciting initiative is the work our emerging middle school team will do with Associate Professor Geoff Munns from the University of Western Sydney who has researched and written extensively on increasing student engagement in learning. Professor Munns will work with the team over the full year with his first visit from February 25 to March 2.

We have also made an important leadership appointment. Steve Lewis has joined the Federation as Transition Leader for 2010. Steve is a very experienced and successful school leader whose most recent position was as principal of Rokeby High School. Steve’s role will be to work alongside school leaders and staff to develop and implement a professional learning plan for staff that will enable us to build the consistent skills and team approaches across our schools that are central to the Federation.

We have a very full and challenging but exciting and rewarding year ahead of us.

Federation website and email address:

Our website at www.education.tas.gov.au/basmlearningfederation is being updated to include news about latest developments including building concepts and plans. Your comments are very welcome. Alternatively, you can email comments to bsm.learningfederation@education.tas.gov.au

*Andy Bennett is manager of the Bridgewater and Southern Midlands Learning Federation

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