The Education Directorate has been busy over the past few months upgrading and expanding ACT public schools right across the Territory in preparation for the 2020 school year. We are working hard to ensure that every child has access to great, accessible and sustainable facilities and school infrastructure that support high quality education in our rapidly growing city.
The ACT Government aims to ensure that every Canberra child has access to a great local school close to home, which is why we have been expanding schools in Gungahlin, the inner north, and the inner south with permanent and temporary infrastructure, providing more places for our students.
At Gold Creek School, new permanent learning spaces for an additional 300 students in the junior school are ready for Term 1 2020, while planning is underway for the construction of new learning spaces for an additional 200 students in the senior school by 2022.
For the beginning of the 2020 school year, we refurbished Amaroo School to accommodate student growth, expanded staff and administration areas at Gungahlin College. We installed high quality transportable classrooms at Forrest Primary School, Telopea Park School and Lyneham High School to provide more places for students. A permanent expansion to Neville Bonner Primary School to accommodate an additional 175 students and new transportable classrooms for Red Hill School and Fraser Primary School will be completed within the next couple of months.
We have been upgrading facilities and infrastructure in public schools across Canberra as we head into the 2020 school year. Upgrades to school infrastructure can mean a range of things including changing the layout of existing indoor and outdoor spaces, updating and modernising spaces, furniture and appliances, and upgrading technology, all while delivering learning environments that are accessible and sustainable. We want to ensure that our school infrastructure supports the great teaching and learning that occurs in them every day.
Some of the school upgrades we’ve been delivering across the Territory include:
- Upgrades to school administration and/or staff areas at Gordon Primary School, Campbell High School, Lyneham High School, Florey Primary School and Taylor Primary School;
- Upgrading and modernising learning and teaching spaces at Cranleigh School, Florey Primary School, Kaleen Primary School and Lyneham Primary School;
- Sports facility upgrades at UC High School Kaleen, Gold Creek School Senior campus, Lake Tuggeranong College;
- Disability access upgrades at Arawang Primary School, Cranleigh School, Latham Primary School, Campbell Primary School, Calwell Preschool, Hughes Primary School, Black Mountain School and Lake Tuggeranong College;
- Upgrades to learning support spaces at Arawang Primary School, Canberra High School, Charles Conder Primary School, Cranleigh School Gold Creek School senior campus, Fadden Primary School, Macquarie Primary School, Melba Copland Secondary School, Mount Rogers Primary School, Palmerston District Primary School, UC College Lake Ginninderra, Wanniassa School and Yarralumla Primary School;
- Carpark upgrades to Palmerston District Primary School and Mount Rogers Primary School;
- Student and/or staff bathroom upgrades at Arawang Primary School and Hawker School;
- Outdoor learning space upgrades at Isabella Plains Early Childhood School Telopea Park School;
- Thermal upgrades at Wanniassa Hills Primary School, Melba Copland Secondary School and Gordon Primary School;
- Bicycle parking and facility upgrades at Margaret Hendry School, Campbell High School, Charles Weston School and Macquarie Primary School; and
- Landscaping at Belconnen High School.
We will build a new pre-school to Year 6 school at Throsby and prepare for a new high school in Kenny to deliver more local public education options in one of Canberra’s fastest-growing areas.
These two new schools will ensure more Gungahlin students can continue to find a place at a great public school close to home, while providing important local facilities like ovals that can be used by the wider community. The new Throsby primary school will be ready to take students at the start of the 2022 school year, while the new high school is planned to open in 2023.
This investment builds on the delivery of the new Margaret Hendry Primary School at Taylor which opened in 2019, and the new Molonglo Primary School which is currently under construction for delivery in 2021.
We are also growing places for students at local schools across the city, through a combination of permanent expansions and flexible transportable buildings.
This will include expanding the Franklin Early Childhood School from a P-2 facility to a full P-6 school; expanding Gold Creek School’s senior campus and adding new teaching and learning spaces at Gungahlin College; and adding flexible classrooms to Hawker Primary School and Lyneham High School.
Through this year’s Budget we are also investing in detailed planning for future school needs in the city and gateway region – and other urban renewal sites – so we can keep making the right investments to deliver local school capacity where it’s needed.
Visit the ACT Government Budget 2019-20 website
Canberra’s public school facilities are being renewed with new learning spaces, toilets and change rooms, garden and horticultural facilities, heating and cooling upgrades and energy efficiency improvements. Belconnen High School is receiving refurbished technology areas, upgraded outdoor learning and teaching environments and roof replacements.
While other projects will expand the capacity of Harrison School, Gold Creek School, Neville Bonner Primary School and Palmerston District Primary School and increase the capacity of the new primary school in North Gungahlin, creating room for another 844 students. We will also carry out scoping and early planning for new schools in the Molonglo Valley and East Gungahlin, to ensure good local schools grow alongside these new communities.
We are focused on providing healthy and comfortable teaching and learning spaces to maximise the learning outcomes for all children. Ecological Sustainable Development (ESD) plays a key role in achieving this goal through project design and the efficient management of natural resources. The Directorate’s strategic priorities for ESD align with the ACT Government’s commitments to; energy efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, waste minimisation and resource recovery, water efficiency, living infrastructure, sustainable procurement and sustainable transport.
Climate-change-and Future Schools
Sustainable design is integrated into new schools, major projects and capital upgrades to support the ACT government’s 2045 net zero greenhouse emission target. The target established under the ACT Climate Change and Greenhouse Reduction Act 2010, has driven significant progress including the uptake of renewable energy and the integration of sustainable design principles across the ACT public school portfolio.
The provision and upgrade of sustainable school infrastructure is viewed as key to supporting teaching and learning activities and is a visual statement of the ACT Government’s commitment to a sustainable future for current and future generations.
In 2019 the new Margaret Hendry School was the first ACT Public School designed to operate using 100% electricity. This enabled the school to take advantage the ACT’s transition to 100% renewable electricity by 2020 and produce zero emissions in its operations. The school integrates sustainable design features including onsite generation of electricity via a 100kW solar array, solar passive design, natural ventilation, double glazing and energy efficient heating and cooling systems.
Energy Efficiency and Building Comfort
To assist schools to be more efficient in their energy use and improve the comfort of students and staff, a program of targeted upgrades and building audits is undertaken annually. The program includes building envelope improvements to enable better maintenance of internal temperatures by preventing heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer, improved efficiency of building heating and cooling systems to assist in reducing gas and electricity usage, and capacity building through the provision of skill development workshops and information sessions for Building Service Officers and Business Managers.
Recent projects include double glazing upgrades to select areas at North Ainslie Primary School (building on an open plan classroom and corridor upgraded 2016-17), Southern Cross Early Childhood School and Wanniassa Hills Primary School. Energy monitoring is taking place to determine the effect of the works on energy consumption. Significant improvement in student and staff comfort has been recorded.
External Learning Environments (ELE)
Engaging, sustainable playgrounds are a key focus in delivering a rich outdoor learning environment, supporting positive social experiences for school children and reinforcing connections with the natural environment. A series of programs under this banner ELE deliver landscape master plans to support schools as they progressively develop their grounds, a tree planting program to provide cool seasonal shade to outdoor play spaces and buildings as well as select and construct landscape projects as exemplars that support student needs, are cost effective, reflect current best practice for environmental sustainability and provide a balance between artificial and natural play spaces.
A Tree Planting Program initiated in 2017-18 involved the planting of advanced tree specimens to provide shade to buildings, reduce the impact of heat banking surfaces, provide cool shade to students and playgrounds, and replace trees at end of life. In 2018-19 a further 98 trees were planted across nine schools including Bonython Primary, Caroline Chisholm (senior and junior campuses) Fadden, Hawker Primary, Monash Primary Wanniassa Hills and Yarralumla Primary Schools.
We are continuing to expand and upgrade ACT public schools throughout 2020 and beyond, including the construction of the preschool to Year 6 school in Denman Prospect, the expansion of Franklin Early Childhood School to accommodate students up to Year 6, the modernisation of Campbell Primary School and Narrabundah College, and planning for a new high school in East Gungahlin.
Late last year the ACT Government released its ACT Infrastructure Plan, a multi-decade plan detailing over $14 billion worth of infrastructure investments across Canberra. It focusses on priorities such as health, education - including new schools in our suburbs, transport and community services which will help Canberra cater for a city of 500,000 people by 2030. For more information, click here.