A Dapto school has unveiled its $9 million upgrade to help cater for changed learning styles and future-proof its facilities for possible expansion in the fast-growing area.
St John’s Catholic Parish Primary School has officially opened its brand new and refurbished facilities to be used by students from kindergarten to year 6 to replace the many ageing and outdated classrooms and spaces.
“A lot of the school was becoming quite unsafe in regards to the maintenance requirements,” Acting Principal Matt Downes said. “So we were long overdue for an upgrade.”
The multi-million-dollar injection funded nine new classrooms used by years 4, 5 and 6 with 12 other classrooms updated to ensure consistent quality and opportunities across all age groups.
“The old building was completely gutted and the inside was designed to be like the new building is as well,” Mr Downes said.
The new spaces are not only safer for students, but have also been designed for a modern learning environment so each child can connect to their education in a way that works best for them.
“They call them contemporary spaces because they cater for a range of learners. There are tables that are low, tables that are high, there are some that kids can stand behind, there are ottomans that rock, roll and kids can sit how they like on them, there are also regular seats,” Mr Downes explained.
“No longer do we have the old fashioned teacher’s desk as such, they have a teacher’s caddy that can be moved around the room because teachers no longer just sit at the front of the classroom like they once did, now they roam to help the kids at different times.
“It’s about maximising the opportunities for learning and we want to engage every child. If we’ve got them engaged in learning and can differentiate them in their learning then we’re achieving our goal.”
The upgrade was jointly funded with $3.5 million received through the Commonwealth Government’s Capital Grants Program and another $5.5 million from the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong.
Whitlam MP Minister Stephen Jones said having access to a good start early in their education is critical for young people.
“This literally changes young people’s lives and gives them the opportunity that their parents may not have had and it enables them to reach their full potential,” Minister Jones said.
This is particularly important in areas like Dapto, which is one of the region’s fastest-growing populations.
“There are lots of young families moving to the area [and] they need schools for their kids, so an expansion on existing schools such as this one but also investment in new schools in the area is absolutely critical,” Mr Jones said.
And already with 600 students, the new facilities could even put St John’s on the path to offer improved educational outcomes to more families in the region.
“Currently, we are a three-stream school but down the track there is the opportunity to expand our school as well,” Mr Downes said. “So hopefully we can cater for the growing needs of the catholic education around West Dapto.”