Major new building for Wakari School

Wakari School principal Chris Smith stands in front of one of three prefabricated classrooms...
Wakari School principal Chris Smith stands in front of one of three prefabricated classrooms which will be removed after the building of a new learning centre at the school. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O'CONNOR
Next year, for the first time in more than 60 years, a major development will take place at Wakari School.

Principal Chris Smith said the Ministry of Education has granted the 330-pupil school nearly $2million to build a new learning centre.

The centre will eventually replace three "dilapidated" prefabricated classrooms which had been at the school since the 1960s.

"This will be the first major capital expenditure on a new building since the prefabs were installed.

"The money is for a two-stage project. Stage one is to build a new learning hub, which will be the equivalent of three teaching spaces."

He said the new hub would allow the school to provide "flexible and co-operative" teaching spaces.

"We no longer have single-cell classrooms.

"Kids now work in spaces that are the size of three or four classrooms, and they work across that space together with different teachers.

"It means you can meet the needs of all the kids. You'll have an array [of needs] in all classrooms, but if you can share that array across a number of spaces, it's easier to pair like-minded kids up.

"And if you've got kids who are shooting ahead, you've got the ability to support them a bit better. And also those kids that might need a bit more support can be looked after."

Once the centre was complete, stage two would begin, which involved the removal of the three prefabs.

"We'll have to demolish them. They're not worth anything - they're shot.

"The prefabs have done their dash. They're pretty dilapidated."

He hoped the space left after the removal would be used as a "wild area" playground, which may include native trees and a running stream for pupils to play in.

He said the location of the new centre had not yet been determined.

"We're obviously going to have to do some geo-testing and find out where the ground is suitable. But one good thing is, we have got plenty of space."

It was hoped construction would begin later next year, and was expected to take two years to complete.

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