Updated classrooms, windows that actually open and safer surrounds await pupils at Forest Street Primary School which is set to undergo a $5.5 million transformation.
The school received the surprise funding in the last state budget but took the next step toward a new future with the appointment this week of Ballarat firm Morton Dunn Architects to design the redevelopment.
And in a twist, one of the architects who will lead the project is a former Forest Street Primary pupil himself.
Forest Street Primary principal Jill Burt said the much-needed redevelopment would bring learning spaces in to the 21st century and offer students and teachers the ability to work more closely together between classes and different age groups.
One of the things in COVID times is we are asked to have good ventilation but there's not a window that opens along the front of the school ... they're jammed shut with paint over many years.Jill Burt
A new entrance, staff spaces and quiet areas for cultural and other support learning are also in the wish-list.
And with COVID placing new focus on ventilation and maintaining healthy environments, the systems need to ensure that will also be put under the microscope.
"One of the things in COVID times is we are asked to have good ventilation but there's not a window that opens along the front of the school ... they're jammed shut with paint over many years," she said.
"One of our goals is to have further collaborative spaces and opportunities for teachers to team-teach. As you go through the school (currently) there's not a great deal of opportunity to open up and have different spaces where teachers can teach and put diverse student groups together."
Ms Burt said many of the existing classrooms were quite small, and classrooms in the school's junior area, where the preps, grade ones and twos are located, do not have sinks which limits the types of activities that can be carried out.
"The opportunity to collaborate and work together across the school is really difficult," she said.
"The original school had around 800 students and over a period of time that has changed but we've still got all this building space to maintain. It will be a real challenge to transform and have those spaces where we can collaborate, and quiet areas to take students who need additional support.
"We also have a large Koorie cohort and want to set up a cultural type of area where they can work and assist with their program."
Much of the school also contains asbestos which will be removed during the transformation, much to the relief of Ms Burt.
"That's been quite a big challenge to our community," she said.
Morton Dunn Architects has a long history working with the school, having designed plans for its gym and other upgrades more than 20 years ago.
"We are delighted to renew our relationship with Forest Street Primary School, to transform existing facilities into state-of-the-art learning environments that will inspire students, staff and the broader school community," said Morton Dunn Architects director Alan Morton.
He said he wanted to hear ideas from students, teachers and the school community about what they want in the school redevelopment.
"We will work through a number of priorities and work through that list to make sure get the best value for that money and making sure we pick up environmental and learning experiences as best we can with what we've got," he said.
Wendouree MP Juliana Addison said it was an exciting time for Forest Street Primary both with the transformation and the growing population in the city's north.
IN OTHER NEWS
"We know Ballarat is expanding to the north and Ballarat Council has really focussed on that being the growth zone so it's timely we're putting money in to Forest Street which is right on the edge of the new growth zone. It will be a very interesting time in the future for Forest Street Primary as we see new urban growth to our north," she said.
"It's only right that the classrooms and learning spaces we spend so much time in, in a normal year, are modern and fit for purpose and worthy of a 21st century education because we learn best when we feel comfortable, we feel safe and we feel happy.
"This important upgrade will ensure that the facilities match the excellent teaching and learning that is already happening at Forest St Primary School."
Our team of local journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the Ballarat community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: