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Sandridge School to service Southbank

12 Mar 2015

Sandridge School to service Southbank Image

An independent secondary school, which would service the growing area of Fishermans Bend, could open in Port Melbourne next year after reaching an agreement with a property developer.

The start-up secular school is the brainchild of academic Dr Jeanne Shaw and former Australian Teacher of the Year Sophie Fenton, who would be principal and vice-principal respectively.

The Stamoulis Property Group, which currently owns the Ingles St site, recently signed a generous agreement with the pair allowing it to utilise the heritage, art deco building at the old Symex soap factory.

The pair launched a Pozible campaign last month, which aims to raise $2.15 million in order to make the project happen.

Aiming to open in 2016 with an initial intake of year seven students, Dr Shaw said the school would grow each year.

“The capacity of the building is just over 300 but our long-term aim is that it will be a VCE campus and we’ll get a second campus to grow the school on the same site,” she said.

“Hopefully, via negotiations with some of the developers, we’d love to again have a sort of New York high-rise kind of junior school nearby.”

By 2021 it is estimated the Sandridge School would have capacity for 1000 students from prep through to Year 12.

Dr Shaw said the Stamoulis Property Group, who will develop more than 250 townhouses at the site, would refurbish the building in a “pay-off” to the school, which would create a sense of community and attract families to Fishermans Bend.

Having both worked in and studied teaching their whole working lives, she said the project was their way of celebrating the profession.

“It’s not just another school nor just another business because this is a not-for-profit,” she said.

“Sophie and I have given our lives to the profession and it’s almost like the very best thing that we can do now is to use our gifts, skills, knowledge and energy to give back.”

The pair has gathered a range of seasoned teachers and professionals who are working on the project free of charge.

Ms Fenton said teachers, who were truly passionate and understanding about education, would run the school.

“Experts in the field set up their practices and yet, in education, governments do or churches do. But we’re the experts,” she said.

“We absolutely believe and know and the people who understand education –from parents, past students and educators – have all said that this is the best thing that they’ve ever heard of in education.”

Situated directly in the centre of Southbank, Docklands, South Melbourne and Port Melbourne, Ms Fenton said the location was perfect for the pair to carry out their educational philosophy.

She said the school would utilise community facilities in an effort to promote citizenship, with organisations such as Oxfam, Oaktree and UN Youth to run programs within the curriculum.

“Our philosophy around schooling is very much on developing and growing community and so we wanted a school that allowed us to have that conversation with students around what it is to be a good citizen. How, in being a community-minded person, your life is enriched by enriching the life of others,” she said.

“So it’s a community-based urban school where the kids use local facilities, understand the value of local facilities and understand the value of growing the community that you live in.”

The school is currently in the process of obtaining school registration in preparation for opening next year.

For more information and to contribute to fundraising efforts visit
www.sandridgeschool.org.au

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