Physical upgrade enhances student opportunities

St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, Charlestown has created a modern amphitheatre-style learning space that incorporates digital technology and enhances flexibility. 

The Sisters of St Joseph’s designed and built the school on the current site in 1975 and the original rooms housed two classes in open and collaborative learning spaces with a unique additional breakout room attached in the middle.  

This year, with substantial funding from the Catholic Schools Officewe have redesigned and refitted the old multi-purpose room into a bright, modern open-learning space for our two Year 2 classes. 

The physical changes will enhance student learning opportunities. Removing the walls to the breakout room has completely opened up the new unit. This modern amphitheatre-style learning space provides students in the two classes with flexible seating arrangements and enables both classes to work collaboratively.  

The open space also caters to other flexible learning groups. We can now set up various learning activities for students to explore in a variety of areas. We have also created a digital technology learning space   

The new space enhances and supports our school’s effort to embed the Leading Learning Collaborative project and the work of Lynn Sharratt being implemented across the Diocese. In these enhanced display areas, the environment becomes a third teacherThese engaging and purposeful spaces allow students to see the next step in their learning and the development of class and personal goals.  

The class space also has a new practical activity for creative arts and science experiments, including STEM and robotics experiences. The Year 2 unit has been supplied with new ergonomic furniture and interactive smart screens.  

We have also landscaped the outdoor areas and renovated the courtyard for learning opportunities. This flows into other outdoor spaces including the school vegetable garden and loose-part play area.  

The previous Year 2 classroom unit has been converted into the school’s multi-purpose room. The transformation establishes an inviting and creative learning space for our specialist creative arts teacher’s Music and Drama classes. This unit is also used for our band lessons and French Language Club. We have also created an area puppetry and other dramatic performances. 

Over the course of 2021 we will redesign the Learning Hub and Computer Lab to include a Green Screen Room with sound proofing for filming and podcasting. We are in the process of designing this and assessing the required technology to assist in making this a contemporary space for our students to film and create audio and visual pieces. 

Physical changes aside, we were excited this year for our Kindergarten classes to join the Successful Foundations projectThe Kinder learning space has been reimagined to allow students opportunities to engage in play provocations for both self-determined play, and play as a pedagogy, in a variety of key learning areas. 

Through our participation in the project, our vision for a Kinder learning space continues to develop and expand as we seek to provide an environment that allows our young learners to show their understandings, express their thoughts and creativity and their many different ways of thinking. As well as being intentional in our pedagogical decisions we have also given consideration to the environment, spaces, materials, resources, and incorporation of loose parts 

Witnessing the importance of play – outside play in particular – on student wellbeing, including self-regulation, physical health and emotional resilience, has cemented out commitment to the project and created many wonderings and thoughts for translating this into new physical classroom spaces.  

St Joseph’s has also joined the Gifted Education school network this year, which will provide professional learning to our staff on identifying, developing and implementing a range of initiativesWith the assistance of our Gifted Education Lead teacher, St Joseph’s staff and community are eager to expand our knowledge in this area to benefit our students.   

With Successful Foundations, Gifted Education and our school’s ongoing work in embedding the 14 Parameters, we are focused on always improving students’ learningWe are strengthening classroom practicto enhancour knowledge of all learners and improve our capacity as a professional learning community. 

As the renowned specialist in education psychology, Viviane Robinson, says: “Educational improvement is judged by its impact on learners – whether those impacts are social, cultural or academic.” 

All stakeholders have positively received the refurbishment of the Year 2 unit, which has contributed to an increased sense of pride as well as anticipation of what will be next for our school. Our vision is that through funding from capital works we will be able to refurbish and fit-out another four units over the next few years.  

Our Year 2 project is the blueprint on which we will base our school learning spacesproviding a clear direction moving forward. 

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