Ready to learn: Fifty-four preps will begin their education at Lucas Primary School this year. Photos: FILE

Schools expand, zones tighten as city grows

January 14, 2021 BY

AS students head back into the classroom for 2021, Lucas Primary School will celebrate its first birthday.

The facility opened last year with 71 enrolments, wrapping up 2020 with 88 students and 11 grade 6 graduates.

Planning for the upcoming term, principal Sue Sawyer said her 15 staff are about to welcome 148 children from Ballarat west’s growth corridor into eight class groups.

“We’ve got 54 preps starting with us this year, which is really exciting, and 16 students coming in other grade levels from 1 to 6. We’re looking forward to it,” she said.

With its renovated facilities and nearby residential growth, Ballarat High School could be accommodating 1600 students by 2022.

“We’re only allowed to take enrolments from our zone, but the area is full of young families, and of our 54 preps, most of them are the oldest in the family with little brothers and sisters still to come.

“I feel like we’ll grow over the summer break with people moving into the area and lots of houses being built, and if we continue to get this many preps each year, that’s where our growth will come from.”

Urquhart Park Primary School will also mark a milestone in term one, operating under its new name of Newington Primary School.

Although it’s a time of change, principal Janet Hillgrove said something that will remain much the same is the school’s enrolment numbers.

Currently 330 children are attending in 2021, with two classes at each year level.

“We’ve got the same number of foundation children. We have had a big grade 6 cohort leave so our numbers have dipped slightly, but overall, our numbers are very stable,” she said.

Although Urquhart Park Primary School farewelled a large cohort of grade 6 students in 2020, their numbers are looking stable for this year.

“The growth of Ballarat hasn’t impacted us necessarily, because our zone is not a growth area… but parents do often talk about zoning, where in the past, they never did.”

The school expected numbers may have dropped with zoning stricter than ever, but Mrs Hillgrove said that hasn’t happened.

“We also have families coming to us seeking the International Baccalaureate program. If they are outside our zone but we have space, we will look at those enrolment enquiries.

“We’re holding our own in Newington. The International Baccalaureate is something different for parents to look at because it’s a fantastic framework preparing children for secondary school, and for life.”

Of those attending State secondary schools, 50 per cent of Urquhart Park’s children typically head to Phoenix P-12 Community College for year 7, and the other half enrol at Ballarat High School.

BHS principal Gary Palmer said 1520 students are enrolled for 2021.

Following recent State Government funding and capital works, the Lake Gardens campus will have space to allow for 1800 learners in their residential zone.

“We have 290 kids at year 7 next year. That’s a result of growth in Alfredton, Lucas and the Carngham Road side of Winter Valley, and we’ve picked up half of Haddon,” he said.

“Our zoning is strict, so we don’t go through the roof. Our zone has lost Miners Rest, out to Clunes, but that has helped us, so we haven’t grown too quickly.

“We’re under capacity and we have room for the kids, but we are seeing growth. There’s a strong demand, and we’re always getting a lot of enquiries… because people in, and out of Ballarat, see us as a good school to come to.”

By 2022, Mr Palmer predicts BHS will be educating 1600 students.

He said the school is expanding due to its “broad, deep curriculum” offerings, including specialist mathematics, music, and languages, and because of the housing “popping up” nearby.

“If you live inside our zone, I can guarantee you an enrolment. We ask for everyone to provide evidence of their residential address inside our neighbourhood because it’s about respect, fairness and equity,” Mr Palmer said.

Mount Rowan Secondary College has picked up the Miners Rest and Clunes neighbourhoods no longer in the BHS zone.