The $14 million redevelopment of St Catherine’s junior school, Barbreck, is on track to open in the middle of next year.
The new three-level junior school building is being built along the Toorak school’s Heyington Place frontage. It will accommodate up to 250 students, with a focus on personalised learning.
It’s the school’s most significant building project for 50 years and features 14 classrooms; specialist learning studios and labs for STEM, art, music and language; a new library and resource centre; an auditorium; a gallery; and individual instrumental tuition rooms.
St Catherine’s principal Michelle Carroll says as literacy is at the heart of all learning, the new library and resource centre has been located at the heart of the new Barbreck building’s design.
“Its central location means the girls will walk through the library and resource centre every day,” she says. “Reading is a shared experience for younger children, so parents and grandparents will also be encouraged to visit.”
To ensure Barbreck’s new facilities reflect the latest learning innovations and technologies, Michelle and junior school head Alana Moor researched learning space design in Australia, the US and Britain. “I visited girls’ schools in New York, where the STEM agenda is flourishing and clearly lifting access to science and technology, with students busy coding, designing and building,” Michelle says.
St Catherine’s has placed a high priority on STEM learning in recent years with girls encouraged to consider careers in STEM industries.
“Our junior school students will have the advantage of a purpose-built STEM lab and a specialist STEM teacher, and know that STEM learning is just as important as music, art and language,” Michelle says.
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Another key influence was the design of the Royal Children’s Hospital, with its welcoming and inclusive environment and use of graphics on glass. These ideas have inspired Barbreck’s design.
Michelle says St Catherine’s junior school has a proud history of achievement, laying the educational foundation for generations of women – leaders and pioneers of industry, philanthropy, medicine, law and music.
Former students include Victorian Governor Linda Dessau and Lady Southey, the state’s lieutenant-governor from 2001-2006.
Refreshed & renewed
After the new junior school building is completed in the middle of next year, the existing buildings will be demolished to make way for a new landscaped play and sport precinct, The Village Green (above).
Securely enclosed within the school campus, The Village Green will have a perimeter running track, strength and agility play equipment, a vegetable garden and quieter sitting spaces.