As Project Manager and Superintendent for the new Greater Shepparton Secondary College project, the SEMZ team were delighted to attend the first sod turn last week at the original Shepparton High School Campus.
SEMZ is proud and excited to be part of such a significant new regional school project. This milestone event is the first on-site step in delivering a project that will profoundly impact the educational outcomes of the Shepparton region.
The Hon. James Merlino – Victorian Deputy Premier and Education Minister, addressed the gathering, describing the Shepparton Education Plan as one of the most important growth education projects in the state of Victoria – ‘We all have a shared purpose in being here today. We are on the cusp of creating real and life-long benefits for the young people of Shepparton.’
‘We are on the cusp of creating real and life-long benefits for the young people of Shepparton’
Discussing the extensive process undertaken to reach the decision to merge four schools into one state of the art new school, Minister Merlino spoke of the current facilities on offer and the urgent need to provide better facilities, opportunities and outcomes for students in the region.
‘The buildings of Greater Shepparton High Schools are now showing their age. Beyond the bricks and mortar, we always come back to the question – Why are we doing this? We are building this brand new school because despite the best efforts of our educators, staff, parents and students, literacy and numeracy outcomes within this region have not been where they should be. They are well below state averages and we fail our current and future students if we just accept that. We have been failing them collectively for a long time.’
‘They are well below state averages and we fail our current and future students if we just accept that’
For the SEMZ team, there’s a sense of excitement about the real and lasting change this project will have on the community. Minister Merlino spoke of the extensive research and collaboration in planning the future for Shepparton’s public Education offering. ‘What’s powerful about this project is that the entire community has come together and said that we have to do something fundamentally different and that is why there is no doubt in my mind that this will be an extraordinary success. We need 21st Century facilities, and we need to deliver better education outcomes, and we’re going to do just that with this education plan.’
We need 21st Century facilities, and we need to deliver better education outcomes, and we’re going to do just that with this education plan
Richard Hansen from Hansen Yuncken spoke of their pride in building this project. ‘Hansen Yuncken has had a local presence in Shepparton since 1925 and we are thrilled to be working with the local trades to deliver a remarkable new education facility for the region.’
Minister Merlino acknowledged Gray Puksand Architects and the outstanding school design they have created. ‘The new facility – Greater Shepparton Secondary School will be an incredible school.’ Gray Puksand Partner Stephen Turner describes the design as nine small schools within a large school. ‘We have identified each of these small schools as architectural elements. The beauty of the design is that they’re not just small schools – they’re connected by neighbourhoods, and within the neighbourhoods students have access to amazing facilities – science and technology, engineering, art and maths environments with literacy and library spaces – everything they need.’
Stephen explained the benefits of the design ‘While the students benefit from being part of a small school, they have all of the extra facilities of a large school. Not only that but the innovation hub is highly powered for big science spaces – the multi labs and the technology spaces. The innovation hub gives the community a great opportunity to connect with the school. There’s a theatre and so many innovative features that you could only achieve in a school this size.’
‘While the students benefit from being part of a small school, they have all of the extra facilities of a large school’
Asked about the design process Stephen spoke of extensive collaboration with community and learning pedagogy experts. ‘We didn’t invent this from no-where – the design was born from a collaborative process with the community from students right through to the educators and parent groups. There was a lot of excitement and support from community at that grass-roots level throughout design. We also benefited from extensive advice from Dr Ben Cleveland of Melbourne University – he was a critical mentor and facilitator to help bring us the research and translate the educational programs into the future of education.’
With works commenced on site SEMZ is looking forward to leading the collaborative team approach through construction to deliver a great and lasting outcome for the Shepparton Region.