“A great outcome”: Concerns heard as new Docklands Primary campus to include play space
After strong pressure from the school community, a new campus for the at-capacity Docklands Primary will feature play areas for students.
The new Docklands Primary School campus located within a nearby shopping centre will feature space designated for play, in what has been called a “great outcome” for students and teachers.
The State government’s move to include a small sports court, climbing wall and room for free play was a “direct response” to concerns about the number of times children would travel back and forth from the main school campus.
Without the play areas, it was feared students would need to walk about 200 metres before and after both recess and lunch periods plus specialist classes, creating potential safety issues and placing added stress onto teaching staff. Concerned parents said original plans for the repurposed retail space at The District Docklands did not address their worries, as reported by Docklands News.
However Northern Metropolitan Region MP Sheena Watt announced on June 8, alongside school council members, that a better outcome had been reached and a “fantastic play space” would be part of the new campus.
Parent Mary Masters said it was a good result after fears learning outcomes would be compromised by the move.
“We’re so pleased for the school and so pleased for the kids, it’s a great outcome for them. It’s space to grow and learn and become the big humans that we’re hoping that they will become,” Ms Masters said.
It means we won’t have to move the kids to and from the main campus … moving them back and forth for every specialist class; for library, for PE, for lunchtime and recess, that eats into their learning time, and the teachers’ learning time.
When announcing the new campus in March, the government had planned to commence classes there from the beginning of term three on July 12.
However, Ms Watt confirmed that the campus was now expected to open by the end of term, with works to start “soon”.
It is expected that the new campus will house senior primary school students (Grades Five and Six), although that was yet to be confirmed by the Department of Education.
The Department was forced to find a new home for students after it underestimated enrolment numbers at the school, which opened in 2021.
The school’s main campus, located at the corner of Footscray Rd and Little Docklands Drive, has already reached its 525-student capacity
With around 100 prep students starting each year, Docklands Primary could soon have more than 700 pupils.
The new seven-classroom campus was set to hold a maximum of 225 students.
“It’s great for the kids,” Susan, a member of the school council, said of the announced play space.
“The teachers as well, and the safety of them all being together here … it’s a standalone campus, so they can stay here all day, do all their classes here and teachers aren’t commuting them backwards and forwards anymore – so it’s safer for them and the teachers.”
Another school council member, Rakhi, added: “It takes pressure off the main campus, too. With extra kids going there, there’s no room.”
Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece said the announcement was “great news for the local community”.
With around 100 prep students starting each year, Docklands Primary will soon have more than 700 pupils.
The Department has signed a five-year lease for the empty retail space, with an option to extend the agreement beyond 2028.
It said the shopping centre campus was required on a temporary basis until additional capacity was generated within the local network of new nearby schools; firstly, a newly opened North Melbourne Primary School campus and the future development of additional primary schools within Fishermans Bend.