BALLARAT Grammar School has started construction on a $4 million grade four centre at its Mount Rowan farm campus.
From April next year, the school plans to have grade four pupils at the new building four days a week, where they will continue their lessons in a farm environment.
Headmaster Stephen Higgs said there had been uncertainty about the project as the school had to get special permission from Planning Minister Matthew Guy to build a school development in a farm zone.
“It’s taken two years, so we’re itching to go now,” Mr Higgs said.
The building is being built on the school’s 48.5 hectare farm where they currently have pigs, cattle, sheep and peas.
Head of junior school Roger Bade said it was the only school in the region with a farm focus.
“It’s been a dream to have this environmental focus for the grade fours while they continue their essential learning,” Mr Bade said.
Other schools around the country have a similar model of learning for grade four pupils, including Geelong College.
“Kids will be using skills they’ve learnt to pursue interests and carry out investigations beyond the classroom,” Mr Bade said.
The school’s sustainability co-ordinator Clarice Lisle said it would give pupils a multi-sensory experience.
“It will have the theme of caring for life, where it will develop ecological senses.”
The building will include three classrooms, a common area and a kitchen for the paddock-to-plate program.
“The world is moving away from environmental education as a separate subject, but including it in all contexts all the time.”
Ms Lisle said grade four was an ideal age for the program.
“It tags their memory before adolescence,” she said.
“It helps to establish ideologies during a time that they’re very open to learning new things.”