Class bell set to ring at Morwell

It has a principal, it has a name, and now the finishing touches are being placed on the Morwell school merger project.

The decade-long $10.45 million development, which involves the amalgamation of Tobruk Street, Commercial Road and Morwell primary schools at the new McDonald Street site, will come to fruition in January ready for term one.

Morwell Central Primary School, as it is officially known, will be headed by Justine Smyth, the current principal of Commercial Road Primary School.

Ms Smyth spoke to Express journalist Bonny Burrows about the development and the school’s vision for the future.

The state-of-the-art education facility will have students learn in an open-plan classroom environment situated within four central learning hubs.

Ms Smyth said each hub would have access to an outdoor learning courtyard to provide a range of indoor/outdoor learning opportunities.

The school will also use an on-site $4 million performing arts centre, constructed in 2012, which is currently being fitted out.

Other school facilities include an indoor cubby house, purpose-built canteen, upgraded gymnasium and staff and visitor car parking.

About 400 students are currently enrolled to attend the new site next year, including 49 preps.

Principal Ms Smyth will be joined by about 16 teachers and an additional 20 odd support staff from the three schools.

Ms Smyth said no teaching jobs would be lost in the merger as all contracted teachers would transfer to the new McDonald Street site.

Along with classroom teachers, the school’s staff will comprise six science, technology, engineering and mathematics ‘coaches’ and four specialist teachers in the areas of information technology, music, physical education and performing arts.

School will operate from 8.30am to 3.30pm and the daily timetable will comprise three learning blocks.

Ms Smyth said students would work in their age-specific learning hubs in groups based on their individual needs.

The entire school community was heavily involved in the establishment of the school’s vision – ‘a curious, connected learning community’ – and values – ‘acceptance, support, persistence, individual responsibility, respect and excellence’.

“It was actually pretty easy to come up with our values as we each had similar ideas about what they should be,” Ms Smyth said.

The school’s uniform of navy and yellow was also easily decided, Ms Smyth said, as each individual school had navy in its colours while yellow was chosen as a symbol of the merger.

“One of the reasons we went with navy was to also cut costs to parents, they don’t have to buy a new uniform if they already have the plain navy polo,” she said.

With the core elements of the school now decided, attention has turned to the transition of its students.

Ms Smyth said for the remainder of the 2016 school year she would base herself at Tobruk Street and Morwell Primary for two days a week to establish relationships with staff, students and parents.

Transition sessions are also scheduled for next month at the Morwell Central’s performing arts centre and a parent information night and barbecue is planned for December.

“Over the course of this year the principals from Tobruk Street, Morwell Primary and I have had the opportunity to build a positive working relationship,” Ms Smyth said.

“We will continue to work collaboratively to ensure a smooth and successful transition for our school communities.”

Anyone with questions relating to the project is encouraged to visit the ‘Morwell Central Primary School’ Facebook page.

If you would like to attend a transition session, phone Angela Skinner at Tobruk Street Primary School on 5134 2517.