By ANDY BENNETT*
MOST often my columns are about progress with the building program at our schools and I have included a quick update at the end of this piece. However this time I wanted to write about why we are undertaking such a major building construction program in light of what we are aiming to achieve.The Federation vision is ambitious and wide reaching. We want to improve the education, training, employment, health, social and economic outcomes for the people who live in our community. To do so we will increase the quality and range of opportunities for learning for all people from birth to 99 years of age.
To improve outcomes we are reshaping how and where education and training and related services are provided. For example:
o We will build an indigenous children and family centre that provides outstanding early years education, care and parenting programs that are connected to and work in partnership with the wide range of existing early years programs already operating in the community.
o Our three kindergarten to grade 6 primary schools will become Birth to grade 4 schools. At these sites our youngest children and their families will be welcomed, and provided with outstanding early years education and upgraded, purpose built facilities that will fit seamlessly with kinder to grade four foundation years education.
o The current Bridgewater High School building will be completely refurbished and we will provide a middle school education program that meets the specific needs of pre-adolescent and adolescent students in grades 5 to 8.
o We will build new facilities on the Bridgewater High School site that will include grade 9/10 and grade 11/12 centres as well as catering for adult learning. A trade training centre will be collocated on the campus. For the first time students will be able to follow a supported and managed pathway to further education, training and employment from grade 9 to 12 and beyond while remaining in our local area.
o Increased adult learning opportunities will be available including access to a range of programs delivered at the trade training centre, the new facilities at the Bridgewater campus and a new learning and information network centre. These provisions will be complemented by the successful adult learning programs that take place in the local neighbourhood houses.
We are doing all this because we know there is a direct relationship between employment and the quality of people’s lives and their levels of engagement and success in education and training.
This is particularly so in today’s world where we know that more than 80% of future jobs will require a grade 12 or equivalent training qualification and that the skills needed to maintain and progress in employment will continue to change as new technologies come into being.
The safety fences defining the space where construction works for the new buildings on the Bridgewater campus are now in place. Work to mark out the footings has begun. The heavy machinery for digging foundations will arrive on site in the week beginning March 29.
The pre-cast panels for the walls of the new school and community gymnasium arrive on site on April 12 and construction will progress quickly from then.
Our Grade 10 students have moved to very colourfully refurbished terrapin buildings. Space to begin the refurbishment of the first part of our new middle school is now available. Initial demolition work will begin very soon.
Work continues on schedule at the trade training centre Bridgewater campus site.
Refurbishment work at East Derwent and Herdsmans Cove Primary School has been completed. Work at Gagebrook Primary School begins after Easter.
A recommendation from our local enabling group to build the indigenous children and family centre at the Brighton Civic Centre precinct has been forwarded to the relevant Tasmanian Government committee. We will also ensure that the centre also has a presence in the Gagebrook area.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
*Andy Bennett is manager of the Bridgewater and Southern Midlands Learning Federation