Dear Parents & Carers,
It is with great delight that I write to inform you that we will be commencing our gymnasium and performing arts building works at the end of Term 3. The Mitcham Primary School community have been advocating for a gym for over 20 years but unfortunately, the dollar cost was well beyond our means. However, thanks to the Government grant of $5 million, we will now be the proud recipients of a new gym and performing arts class that will meet both our teaching and learning needs for many years to come. The build, which commences in October, has a completion date of April 2022 meaning that we will have a lot of dust, noise and interesting things to watch and ponder.
The demolition of our aging gym, Kibby, Komlas and two transportable buildings will commence during the October school holidays. The timing of this was decided upon by the Department for Education, who are facilitating the build, and aimed at minimising any disruption to student learning. As some of these buildings contain asbestos sheeting, our whole site will not be accessible for the two weeks of the school holidays to enable the site to be cleared safely and to ensure the wellbeing of all members of our community.
The holiday timeline will impact greatly upon our Happy Haven OSHC vacation programme however, I have held recent discussions with our OSHC director, Kathryn Nielson, and Happy Haven’s regional director, Wayne Copley, to see how best they can continue to offer a service for those families who need vacation care during the two weeks of demolition.
Kathryn and Wayne will be providing information directly to those parents who use OSHC as soon as they have determined a suitable venue and received permission from their governing body to temporarily relocate their service to a new location. Rest assured that Happy Haven will be able to provide a vacation service for the October school holidays albeit in a new location.
During late Term 3 we will be relocating our Junior Primary Performing Arts programme to the French building as this building will disappear over the holidays and, with the demolition of the Kibby, the Primary Performing Arts programme will be relocated to the Kurraka. Our French class will also move, first to the Innovation Centre for term 4 and then to one of our classes in the Gillard building thereafter. The PE programme will continue as usual but with a focus on using our basketball/netball courts during the time of the build to minimise any disruption to student learning.
Our oval will still be accessible during the build however, it will have gates restricting access during build delivery times. This is something we have worked with in the past and our students and teachers have managed extremely well.
The demolition and building works will also cause difficulties for those private companies who hire our facilities during school time and afterhours. This includes the Karate programme, adult fitness groups and Private Music Instructors.
The Karate programme that currently uses our gym and Kibby buildings will be moving temporarily to Westbourne Park Primary School’s hall. Mike will be contacting his karate community soon once he has finalised his dates for his final sessions here and his commencement date at Westbourne Park. Mike assures me that he can’t wait to return to use our new gym and the facilities within it.
Our Private Music Instructors (PMIs) are also affected greatly by the demolition of the Komlos music rooms. Our wish was to include new music rooms within our new build however, this was not a possibility due to the restriction on floor space based upon the Department’s regulations on allocating a building size ratio based upon the number of students enrolled in our school.
The funding allocated to us by the Government only allows for teaching and learning spaces required for the Australian Curriculum PE and Performing Arts programmes, toilets, staff office, storage and kitchenette.
Sadly, we are unable to host the Private Music Instructors in our remaining buildings during school hours as we do not have the necessary learning spaces, or the soundproofing required, to minimise the impact upon our core business of the teaching and learning of the Australian Curriculum.
Governing Council and the school’s leadership team have met with PMI parent representatives to discuss various options to ensure the continuation of the much valued PMI programme here at Mitcham. The parent committee have also made contact with both the Minister of Education’s office and the Director of Capital Works and Assets to discuss the possibility of receiving extra funding to provide suitable spaces for these private music programmes. The outcome of these discussions will be shared with our community as soon as a response has been received.
I have also met with our PMIs to discuss their next steps and how best we can support the various music programmes during the remainder of the year and into the New Year. We value the music instruction that has been offered to our students over the years and, although we are not able to host the programmes during school time, we are certainly able to offer teaching and learning spaces before and after school hours. I have asked our PMIs to review this option and to contact their families to discuss it further.
Rest assured, we have explored many options to continue with the PMI programme in its current format since receiving the demolition timeline however, most have not been viable or have been cost prohibitive to the school. I understand that this news will cause distress for many but I am hopeful that these valuable programmes will continue to be supported heavily by our parent community, who value it too, in an after school timeslot.
Over the coming weeks I will be providing further news on the build to our staff, students and parents. We know we will experience some difficulties during the build but, as with the Gillard, courtyard and Innovation Centre redevelopments, our community of learners is resilient with change and manages extremely well. They will certainly enjoy the facilities this build will provide as, I’m sure, will all members of our great school community.
Warm regards, Scott