Lisieux digging deep for better outdoor learning

October 21, 2021 BY

Students Eve Kerr, Tex Cuolahan, principal Dr Susan Ryan, Arley Brody and Arlo Baranski on the site of the school's new landscaping project. Photo: VINNIE VAN OORSCHOT

A RIVER rock tiered amphitheatre, a food forest, a pebble swale surrounding the oval, and a range of play equipment will be a part of Lisieux Catholic Primary School’s next big build as the school continues to add to its “connection to nature” approach.

The Torquay school completed Stage 2 of the build a month ago and has dug straight into its next project in constructing a new outdoor learning space.

Lisieux’s new completed oval was the first step in constructing the outdoor learning space, with the school partnering with landscaping company Bridget Doyle Landscape Design to bring the rest of the project to life.

“Lisieux is a learning community very committed to sustainable practices and to cultivating a relationship between students and the environment,” principal Dr Susan Ryan said.

“We try to foster a spirit of stewardship through our curriculum and various specialist programs, and we strive to conduct our learning outdoors at least 30 per cent of the time.

“The planting of large amounts of green features will help to strengthen this connection with nature.”

Lisieux received a grant from the state government of about $80,000 to help with its Stage 2 learning areas, contributing to the construction of the oval and a small amount of landscaping.

The rest of the funding will be privately sourced by school, according to Dr Ryan.

“We have also submitted an application to the Surf Coast Shire council for support with the development of our Food Forest, which we plan to be an opportunity for outreach and connection with the wider community,” Dr Ryan said.

Students Eve Kerr, Tex Cuolahan, principal Dr Susan Ryan, Arley Brody and Arlo Baranski in front of the school’s new food forest site.


Lisieux continues to lead the way in outdoor learning, hosting their inaugural Outdoor Learning Conference at the school earlier this year, with about 80 educators from Victoria and interstate in attendance.

The dialogue at the conference has encouraged many other schools to follow a similar path in reviewing the developments of their outdoor spaces.

“It has been a team effort and we have walked the journey with staff, students and families, all contributing in various ways. I hope we continue to evolve and grow over many, many years to come,” Dr Ryan said.

The landscaping project began last Tuesday, and it will take several months to complete the first stage of the design. The school will seek further financial support to continue the second stage of installation in 2022.

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