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31 January 2016 Posted by 

VERTICAL PUBIC SCHOOL

Parramatta precinct an Australian first

By Geoff Lee
State Member for Parramatta

PARRAMATTA is set to benefit from the construction of Australia’s first vertical public school.

Together with the new Western Sydney University Parramatta CBD campus for 10,000 students, the schools will form an education precinct right in the heart of Parramatta’s CBD.

The schools will be the model for future inner-city schools where space is at a premium -demand is driven by increasing housing density and parents wanting a school in close proximity to their workplace.

Demand for inner-city education is expected to grow through Parramatta’s unparalleled boom in high-rise residential development with close to 5,000 units being completed in the next two years alone.

The existing schools, Arthur Phillip High School (APHS) and Parramatta Public School (PPS) will be demolished in 2017 to make way for the new campus scheduled for the first intake of students in 2019.

Current teaching and recreation facilities are a mix of classrooms in a ‘rabbit-warren’ layout, portable classrooms that increasingly encroach on recreation space, and concrete and bitumen outdoor play areas with little, if any, grass.

The NSW Government recently unveiled the award winning designs based on global best practice for pedagogy in 21st century education. The government will invest over $100 million in the new primary school for 1,000 students and the new high school for 2,000 students.

The proposed building heights, 14 storey APHS alongside the five storeys proposed for PPS, are complemented by clever design and achieve three times more outdoor recreation area for the students.

A key feature of the APHS building is outdoor learning terraces while the primary school includes terraces, platforms and roof top gardens.

The designs are in line with the NSW Government’s Future Focused Learning goals, to help students succeed in the future with skills in research, problem-solving and critical thinking.

Providing flexible learning spaces to suit different learning styles and activities, and access to the latest technology will better prepare students for the modern world.

The schools will offer dense wireless coverage facilitating technology-rich teaching and learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom.

These design principles will facilitate a fundamental shift in how students are taught in many classrooms across NSW today. Students will move away from the traditional model to new environments that have been built to inspire learning.

New buildings alone are not enough to ensure 21st Century learners are well equipped for the future. To get the maximum benefit from the new schools, teaching practices will embrace new student-centred pedagogies to excite and inspire learners.

Unfortunately, not everyone is a fan of vertical schools.

Critics have warned that vertical schools will discourage outdoor exercise, some even suggesting that the new school may not cater for disadvantaged learners. Parramatta Council has even suggested that it is the wrong site for the new school.

However, smart design has increased the outdoor recreational area by a factor of three. One only has to look at the current school to realise that the concrete and bitumen will give way to an open precinct of grass and gardens that will dramatically change the nature of the school.

While high rise may be a new concept in public education in NSW, St Andrew’s Cathedral School in Sydney CBD has established itself as a much sought after prestigious private school. Its central geographic location next to Town Hall Station gives convenience and accessibility to both students and parents.

In the media, Parramatta Councillors aren’t supportive of the new school location, with one councillor saying: “Having a school in the Parramatta CBD isn’t practical anymore” and that “schools require open space.”

However, not only will there be three times the amount of open space at this new school, many schools around the world have established very successful vertical schools as part of their full-service offering of a modern city.  

The experience from Sydney CBD’s growth has been that it is important to have centrally located schools as a part of creating a liveable city and prevent driving people to the outskirts – a lesson we should heed if we want to continue to attract families to live in the heart of Parramatta.

Like St Andrews, APHS and PPS can boast a central location, in the heart of Parramatta CBD, offering similar convenience and accessibility with a major transport interchange within walking distance.  

Building Australia’s flagship vertical schools will offer a plethora of educational opportunities for students and families in Parramatta.

The education precinct we are developing in the heart of Parramatta continues to lead the way for innovation, opportunity and accessibility.

It is an example of the standards we can achieve for the future of education in NSW. As the demand for high quality and accessible education increases, these new schools ensure that Parramatta is able to rise to the challenge.



editor

Publisher and editor, Michael Walls.
Mobile: 0407 783 413
Email: info@wsba.com.au
Mail: PO Box 186, Kurrajong NSW 2758
Office phone: 61 2 4572 2336

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