Some of Ballarat's smallest schools are big winners of the city's booming population growth, with enrolments surging from newly-arrived families.
Many small country schools and larger city schools have seen a big jump in numbers as students head back to the classroom in the coming days.
Bungaree Primary School will jump from nine students last year to 17 students in 2021 including five preps and a family of five who have moved in to the area.
Nearby Warrenheip Primary School will welcome seven new foundation students - its biggest intake in the memory of the current staff.
Across town, Lucas Primary School, which opened last year, will have 56 preps walk through the gate on Monday bringing its student population to 155 - more than double what it opened with on its first day in 2020 and almost 70 more than it finished last year with.
They will be among around 1600 prep or foundation students who will start their school years in Ballarat in the coming days - about 900 in government schools and 700 in catholic and independent schools.
Bungaree Primary School principal Catherine Barnes said the school would have 12 students from prep to year two, and five in the senior grades three to six.
"It establishes great leadership skills in the older kids and the spirit of community we value," she said.
Many of the new preps are siblings of existing students and in some cases there have been multiple generations of the one family who have attended over the school's more than 150 years.
"We keep the generations coming through of local families and that's what we encourage - we want everyone to go to their local neighbourhood school."
Warrenheip Primary principal Arthur Lane is expecting 33 students this year - an almost 25 per cent increase in numbers over the past four years.
"We like to think of ourselves as a country school but five minutes in the car from here and you're at Bakery Hill," he said.
"Of our seven new preps, about half are siblings and the other half are complete new to us although there are a couple that have some sort of connection with the school - one whose mum came here and one whose uncle came here.
"Because we are here and we are small, we provide the individual learning that lots of schools do but we have a much tighter sense of community that I don't think you get when you get above 100 kids. It's close knit and ... it's really nice when parents choose that for their kids when they are in prep but we often get kids who move here because they or their family didn't really settle in another school."
Lucas Primary School principal Sue Sawyer said many new students were also new to Ballarat, having moved in to the city in recent months.
IN OTHER NEWS
"Obviously preps are in the area but there are many other families who have shifted in," she said. "Most are new to Ballarat."
The school will have eight classes this year, twice as many as last year, and has seven new staff members including classroom and specialist teachers.
"We are just excited to have all our students back together and have a fantastic year of learning. It's just exciting for us to be growing so much and have lots of new students and staff and continue to build our culture as a new school. I'm really looking forward to building those strong home-school partnerships and making those connections," she said.