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Monday, 21 November 2011
Page: 13044


Mr SYMON (Deakin) (22:22): It is my pleasure to stand up and relate to the House another great news story about a Building the Education Revolution opening in my electorate of Deakin. It has been little while since I have been able to stand here and talk about another school opening—there was little bit of a lull—but all of a sudden there has been a great big rush. On 7 November, I attended my 23rd opening, at Dorset Primary School in the eastern end of my electorate of Deakin, of a new school building.

As usual with these events, there was a great crowd. Present were not only children but also parents; the school council; the Mayor of Maroondah, Tony Dib; the school council president, Michael Walshe; and the school principal, John Jacobs. The amount of work put in, especially by the school principal and the school council president, to make sure that under the program the school got a building it could use must be put on the record. If not for them, the school would have ended up with a far smaller building. Indeed, when the school was assessed for a building under the initial criteria of the BER, it only qualified for a half-size hall.

The school now has 450 students. It has grown particularly quickly, partly due to the closure of another school close by and also because it is in a growing area. With 450 students now at the school, its need for a full-size hall has become even greater. This school was built in about 1978, and, until the construction of its new hall under the BER, it had never seen a new building. I have been to the school on many occasions, and, especially for end-of-year assemblies, all the children and all the teachers had to park themselves in what could best be described as a covered breezeway to have a full school assembly. Really, you would struggle to fit more than two cars across the width of this breezeway, and to have an assembly of 400 children which went for any more than a couple of minutes in such a space was quite a feat. The school managed to do so for many years; they certainly do not have to do so anymore.

They now have a full-size facility, and the reason they have a full-size facility instead of a half-size facility is that they opted for a local template. It is called the Maroondah template, and there are only 10 such buildings in Victoria. Eight of them are in or very close to the boundaries of my electorate, and I believe there is one in Geelong and one in Kangaroo Flat. They are all done by the same builder for a good price and with a great quality of finish and internal fit-out. This means that the school has no problems in offering the facility to its local community. Already clubs such as the Maroondah Magic Basketball Club rent the facility to use for training, as does the Croydon Junior Football Club—not for kicking footballs inside but for many other purposes, such as fundraising events. It is also used for after-hours school care, and it has new offices and great facilities for the school band.

These are the sorts of things that the school never had in the past. Although the school has been there all these years, it has not been the best it could be. That was not because it was not good inside—it has a fantastic principal and fantastic staff—but because the building itself was not suited to the way that teaching is now done in schools. Having the new BER building has certainly made a big difference to the school, and I know it will continue to make a big difference for many years.

It has taken a long time for this building to come to fruition. It was originally announced in 2009, and we went through a lot of argument with the state Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to get the right building for the school. One of the things which count the most is that the school got the building it needed and wanted and that the building will last for decades to come to make learning a much better experience, not only for the students but also for the teachers and those who have yet to lay eyes on the school. The other important thing is that a building constructed under the Building the Education Revolution program not only employs people while it is being constructed but also stays there, passes the test of time and makes our community a better place for children to learn in.