EXCLUSIVE: Victoria Park Primary rebuild on the cards this State Budget

Ben Wyatt with year six students Siddhanth Jain and Riddhi Patwari and Principal Pamela Pollard Picture: Matt Jelonek www.communitypix.com.au   d492685
Ben Wyatt with year six students Siddhanth Jain and Riddhi Patwari and Principal Pamela Pollard Picture: Matt Jelonek www.communitypix.com.au d492685

THE days of pre-primary and kindy students being based away from the Victoria Park Primary school grounds are officially numbered.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt has told Community News that money to build 10 new classrooms at the heritage-listed Cargill Street school would be included in the State Budget he hands down next week.

The money, $7.1 million across the next two financial years, would cover planning and design of enough rooms to bring back the four early childhood classes currently forced to operate at a different location in the next suburb, as early as 2021.

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A further six new standard classrooms will ensure the school can keep specialist rooms for art and music and potentially reduce its reliance on demountable classrooms.

Along with delighted school principal Pam Pollard, Mr Wyatt confirmed preliminary design work had already occurred and that the final design would likely be a multistorey building above the current school car park.

It could mean second-storey classrooms built above a combined staff parking and drop off zone for parents and rooftop play areas to maximise space at the cramped and under pressure education facility.

“As we move to more urban infill, a different style of growing our city, we have to be more creative how we design our schools,” Mr Wyatt said.

“A different style, a different look, multistorey – you can see where you have to go when we are constrained on our urban footprint.”

Ben Wyatt with students Riddhi Patwari and Siddhanth Jain and parents of students from Victoria Park Primary School Picture: Matt Jelonek www.communitypix.com.au d492685

Among State primary schools Victoria Park has the second smallest land footprint in WA and has faced student population pressures for several years.

Ms Pollard said those pressures had led to demountable classrooms replacing play areas, forcing staff to find creative solutions to give students a full school experience.

“We have built two new playgrounds for children to try to spread the children out and we were almost at the stage we were going to have staggered lunchtimes so that the children can play,” she said.

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“We have been taking children off site to play at Raphael Park to play on a regular basis and we have also provided many different opportunities across the school for children to join clubs so they have other places to go other than on the oval.

“Well we call that the oval but it’s probably the size of two basketball courts now.”

Mr Wyatt admitted Victoria Park’s dire need for new buildings had been known by government officials for a couple of years.

“You’re at a point now where the educational experience will start to become compromised, you do need to do the build to stop that,” he said.

“Out of all my primary schools in my electorate not all, but most have numbers pressured but none of them are so constrained in terms of location.”

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“This is a significant spend and I’m particularly delighted because it has been an issue for along time.”

School board chair Bronwyn Ife said it was exciting for parents that all students would be on the same campus again within 18 months.

“The off-site kindergartens and pre-primarys will now last the shortest possible time,” she said.

“It’s been extremely difficult for a lot of parents that have to drop a child at one place and then a younger child at another place. It can be quite challenging for some families.”