STUDENTS in Armidale will soon have the biggest and best high school in regional NSW, with a $65 million new super-secondary school to be built, consolidating and expanding Armidale and Duval High Schools.
Today’s 2017-18 NSW Budget announcement has been welcomed by a jubilant Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall who said he was ‘thrilled’ to see the funding allocated for the development, which will accommodate up to 1,500 students on a completely rebuilt Armidale High School campus, with an unprecedented breadth of subject choices, specialist teachers and the most modern learning, sporting and cultural facilities of any school in the state.
Mr Marshall described the Armidale super-school as a once in a generation opportunity to boost student educational outcomes and offer a premium public education product for the entire region for decades to come.
“Investment on this scale in country NSW education is virtually unprecedented, which will make Armidale – and this school in particular – the envy of every other community in rural and regional NSW,” Mr Marshall said.
“This school will have no equal and will be the jewel in the crown of the region’s educational offering and cement Armidale’s reputation as the state’s leading educational inland centre.”
Mr Marshall said a greatly-expanded curriculum delivering the full range of Stage 6 (Years 11 and 12) subjects and potential to offer all Vocational Educational Training (VET) Framework courses would be a feature of the new school.
“No other school in our region and almost none in country NSW will have as expansive an HSC and VET course offering than our new school,” Mr Marshall said.
“It will also have a purpose-built support unit for students with disabilities in our region, which is vitally important and something that will stand this school apart, as well as sporting facilities that will rival any in metropolitan areas.”
Mr Marshall is also excited by the prospect of the new school containing a state-of-the-art multipurpose performing arts centre and recording spaces, equipped with seating for up to 1,000 people, which will be able to stage musicals, theatre productions and school presentations and conferences.
“This school will have a strong focus on performing arts and music and this new facility will be a huge attractant to students looking to study in a modern professional-like space,” Mr Marshall said.
“The huge benefits of this centre will also be felt in the community as it will be made available for public use for traveling shows, theatre productions and attracting and hosting conferences to the region.
“Armidale desperately needs a facility like this and I am delighted that our new school could help provide the missing puzzle piece for the community. It should be the largest centre of its kind anywhere in the whole region.”
Mr Marshall said the new school would be built around offering students the very best education in world-best standard learning environments. New teaching methods will also be employed to best prepare students for a rapidly changing world and economy.
“This school will offer far more for students than either of the current high schools ever could as single entities,” he said.
“For the first time, students will be able to undertake the full spectrum of courses across the NSW curriculum face-to-face, without having to travel or study online.
“This would never have been possible without the NSW Government’s injection of $300 million into schools in regional NSW – which will benefit students right across the state.”
Mr Marshall said the upgrades would include brand new facilities, including:
- modern laboratories for science and enhanced design and technology spaces;
- full wifi and technology integration enabling teachers to embed technology innovations into classroom practice;
- advanced vocational education facilities to better prepare students for the workforce;
- multipurpose performing arts centre and recording spaces; and
- new and upgraded sporting fields and courts.
Permanent staff at both schools will retain job security and teachers will benefit from greater prospects of teaching within their professional specialities while working in larger faculties fostering professional development, collaboration and mentoring.
Mr Marshall said planning would now begin for the new school with construction anticipated to begin in early 2019. He said the community would be fully involved throughout the planning process and soon a contact person will be appointed to keep parents, students and the broader community informed.
“Throughout the transition process there will be an emphasis on suitably recognising each school’s rich heritage and incorporating their identity into the planning process and the new school,” Mr Marshall said.
“I’m incredibly excited about this project and look forward to the many benefits it will bring to education, our children and increased opportunities for Armidale’s culture.
“Today’s announcement is another huge shot in the arm for our region – and on the back of Armidale’s $60 million hospital redevelopment, airport and industrial land expansion, $2 million TAFE Digital Headquarters and the relocation of the APVMA from Canberra – things have never looked better for the city and region.”