19 Oct 2012

Laburnum Primary School – Building the Education Revolution – Matter of Public Importance

Mike's Speeches in Parliament Comments Off on Laburnum Primary School – Building the Education Revolution – Matter of Public Importance

Mr SYMON(Deakin) (16:55): This afternoon I would like to talk about yet another great local delivery of a new school building under the federal government’s Building the Education Revolution program. This one was at a very large primary school in my electorate, Laburnum Primary School, a school with around 820 students. Unlike many other schools, it is full and bursting at the seams. Somewhat differently for my electorate, it does not have a lot of space to put buildings on. It has already grown a fair deal in the years since it was established in 1964. When the program was announced and the Victorian state government offered schools various template buildings, this was a school where a template was not going to fit. After quite some period of time and a bit of toing and froing between the state government, me, the school and the parents, the school got itself an individual design, and it is something that will certainly stand the test of time. It already had a very large and quite new school hall to fit all its students in, so the school looked internally as to what it could do. The result is a new library, a community and staff centre and refurbishment of classrooms. Like so many schools closer in to the city, it had to build up to do that. Like very few schools in my electorate, it now has a two-storey building that covers part of its grounds.

The results speak for themselves, because even the entry to the school, which once used to be the typical poky little corridor that so many of us would know with our local primary schools, is now a great open space. It is really a grand statement for a school and it shows off the school from the very first step when you get inside the door. Upstairs is the staff and community centre, which the students especially love to use because it is a great open space that can be adapted across many different configurations. For instance, if all the grade 6 students—and there are very many of them at a school so large—want to have a meeting, they can use that space upstairs.

The old library was just far too small. When I was there on 4 September for the official opening, the school captains, Kate, Zoe, Angus and Jack, took me through the library. The school was holding a book fair that week, which the school does every week. They have a particular affinity for reading at Laburnum Primary, and a lot of that is driven by the acting principal, Jean Denning, who started the first 10 years of her teaching career as a teacher librarian. This year they had enough space to display everything and give children and parents the opportunity to purchase their favourite books. That is a really wonderful thing to be able to do with a new space. Previously there had to pretty much close off part of the library to enable the book fair to happen. From this year forwards, they can do it with no extra effort and no doubling-up of space.

At the opening ceremony, I was ably assisted by the school council president, Liz Brentnal; the acting assistant principal, Jo Blannon; the school captains; and, very importantly, the former school principal, Gavin Gamble, who was there when I first went to the school in 2008 and was again there in 2009 when we spoke about what could be done with the money under the BER program that would be best for the school. Gavin was a very popular principal at the school, and he got a great reception when he came back to the school assembly. I would like to think that some of us, some day—many years or a year after we have left what we are doing—will get a reception like that!

It was, I think, the 34th BER project that I have opened in the electorate. They are certainly adding up. It has been a great result all round. At every single school that I go to, I talk to the teachers and the parents and the students about what they have got out of the BER, and I am always met with an overwhelmingly positive response. In Laburnum’s case, the buildings were from 1964, nearly 48 years old. They have now got something brand new that will keep both the school and the students of the future going for many, many years to come.

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