Last Monday we attended the last Principal tours of the new PPP schools opening in the South Western regions of Victoria next year. Two months had passed since our last look around and the construction team must have been very busy as the site were transformed! As we walked in, the absence of the prefab site office at the front and the tranquillity of the space were a first indication that the works had slowed down. This was further confirmed as we entered the first Learning Community building. All the fitout and furniture were in place, with no sign of construction artefacts to be seen – it was very easy to picture the new students rushing through the doors and bringing the space into life. The abundance of natural light on the indoor bright surfaces creates a sense of openness and warmth that can be experienced throughout. It was fantastic to have one of the Architects with us to provide background on the design choice of the different aspects, with an outstanding focus on student wellbeing & learning, flexibility and sustainability.

Two of the schools we visited will provide specialist education services for young people and their first-class facilities were a stand-out. The indoor spaces include sensory elements that the students can interact with such as multi textured walls and rotating padded columns. Hamlyn Views school also includes a state of the art pool with ceiling mounted rails for mobility support right through the change rooms to the pool. Both schools’ outdoor spaces have been specifically curated with multi-sensory play areas including natural materials and considerable planting. Where an area has been designated for future productive gardens on the site of most of the PPP schools, the two special schools are being delivered from day one with productive gardens, a chook pen and an extensive orchard to meaningfully further provide opportunities for students’ sensory experience at school.

The excitement and anticipation of the Principals, Assistant Principals, Business Managers and Project managers on the tour were palpable as these once far away big plans for these new schools are becoming reality. The last step for the construction teams is the final clean before the concluding inspections due over the next two weeks before the certificates of completion can be issued and the buildings handed over.

For us at CERES, this remainder of 2017 is dedicated to organising the community BBQs and the initial whole staff workshops for each school that will take place in the first two months next year. We are very excited as the next time we will go the schools they will be full of students and teachers!