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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 5937

Mr BYRNE (Holt) (21:45): I start my statement to the House tonight on a sad note, unfortunately, by remembering Mr Terry Feely, the former principal of St Peter's College in Cranbourne, who sadly passed away during Education Week. Mr Feely was the college's founding principal in 1994 and served as the principal until 2009. St Peter's College in Cranbourne currently has 960 students and I understand the whole school community has been affected by the passing of Mr Feely.

During his 15-year tenure, Mr Feely took great pride in the development of the school's master plan and left a lasting impression on the school in making it a premier education facility. In the words of the current principal of the school, Tim Hogan, Mr Feely was a 'great educator, a fantastic lover of literature and history, and there is no doubt that Mr Feely's legacy and vision will live on at St Peter's College'. On that note, I extend my deepest sympathies to Mr Feely's wife, Dorothy, and three children, Siobhan, Terry and Brendan. My thoughts are with the family and the entire school community at this sad time.

On a brighter note, I turn my attention to Cranbourne West Primary School and the school's modernisation program, funded by the federal government, and the overwhelming benefits it is having on the students specifically. During last month's Education Week, I was pleased to officially open the refurbished classrooms at Cranbourne West Primary School. I was welcomed at the school by some very impressive, enthusiastic and energetic young school leaders. They were Jake Joyce, Jessica Taylor, Josh Watson, Sarah Monahan-Vandermey, Aiden Bonar and Pele Wong-Soon.

These students did an outstanding job in touring me through the refurbished facilities and did their school and their community very proud. They were informative, courteous and very enthusiastic about their school. Part of the refurbished facilities are new open spaces with natural lighting and extended classrooms connecting multiple learning activity centres undertaken by small groups of four or five students each. These students were using the education tools needed in the new IT age. I saw colourful interactive displays, a green wall for multimedia projects, iPads, laptops and smartboards all being utilised by smaller groups of students. I noticed that every child was deeply engaged in their activity.

This is reinforced by the school's goal based learning approach, whereby at the start of each lesson the teachers give the students a goal and ensure they understand what they are doing for this particular task. It is certainly very different from the teaching that most of us experienced in the past and, importantly, it is delivering impressive results. It is great to see and to experience as a local member of parliament the results of investments in educational infrastructure by this government and that they are making a real difference in improving the academic performance and the potential futures for our students.

For example, the funding provided has given the students light-filled and inspiring learning spaces to utilise the technological facilities and the modern learning approach the school uses in its curriculum. In this sense, the BER project has allowed the students to learn and the teachers to teach in the facilities that best suit the school's ideals. One of the valued staff members at the school, Debbie Nobbs, is an excellent example of this approach in action. I happened to observe the great work she was doing during my walk-through. It was testament to the new refurbished buildings facilitating closer attention to individual students who required different styles of learning.

One of the school's 'big ideas' is the Local and Global Citizens Program. This includes a vegie garden which fits into the school's emphasis on sustainability. With the produce of the vegie garden, the dedicated brunch club volunteers help provide morning teas and emergency lunches to those who forget their lunch from home. It was really impressive to hear that the innovative vegie patch was designed and maintained by the school's grade 6 students.

Part of the program is a social competencies program which all the students are involved in. Just walking through the school, it was clear to see the benefits of the program with so many students introducing themselves in a friendly manner and showing pride in themselves and their school. The school principal, Andrew Bergmeier, school staff and parents have utilised the funding from the BER program in the most suitable way for their school, ensuring the vision of the school is met. Walking through those facilities, as I have said, and seeing the manner and the difference of the students' attitude, seeing the great pride that the students had in the new facilities, and attending the official welcoming and opening ceremony, it is a testament to the school and the students' great hope for the future. I congratulate all of the teachers on their efforts that have produced fantastic facilities for the school. (Time expired)