Ballarat Secondary College Wendouree Campus enlisted its own students to rebuild the walls of several classrooms because the government wouldn’t.
Armed with donated tools and materials, 60 year-8 students joined forces with Bunnings hardware staff yesterday and renovated four classrooms at the school that had become both hazardous and detrimental to learning.
Principal David Stuchbery said the campus had long been neglected by successive governments, with the last building being erected in the 1970s and a large proportion of demountable classrooms currently in use.
He said the school had investigated the different funding methods available before deciding on the current course of action.
“You just need to get in there and do it,” he said.
“When we talk with our local politicians they say there are so many schools in disrepair and yours isn’t at the bottom of the state.
“The budget is based on the amount of students you have.”
“Our numbers have been declining over the last few years and that’s a demographic of Ballarat.”
Maths and science teacher Rachel Zuidland said the classrooms were divided by moveable walls that were not only a hazard but also allowed noise to travel between the rooms.
Ms Zuidland first approached Bunnings Warehouse in term two asking for materials to replace the walls.
Bunnings went one step further and offered their staff, who yesterday helped the students to replace the movable walls with solid ones fitted with acoustic batting.
Ms Zuidland said the students had been keen to take ownership of the project.
“The kids are really interested and even our most disengaged kids are keen to be doing this project,”she said.
Ballarat West MP Sharon Knight said it was appalling that students had to provide for themselves a safe environment to learn in.
“Students are there to learn and get the best education they can. To spend their time having to rebuild their classrooms, which is clearly a government responsibility, is absolutely appalling,” she said.
“I call on the government to explain what part of this is okay.”
A spokesman for Education Minister Martin Dixon said the Coalition government had initiated a full audit of all 1556 government schools to get a picture of the maintenance neglect of schools from the previous government, and had established a $100 million school maintenance and cleaning fund.
He said schools were provided with a facilities entitlement based on student population – and schools that decided to retain excess buildings were required to maintain them through their own resources.
Mr Stuchbery said closing the four classrooms was not an option.