$10m plan gets Hart racing: Nth Canterbury principal describes school redevelopment

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Oxford Area School principal Mike Hart.
Oxford Area School principal Mike Hart.
Oxford Area School principal Mike Hart has provided a short but vivid description of how the master plan for his school’s $10 million redevelopment is taking shape - "Awesome".

The revamp will be the biggest development on Oxford Area School’s Bay Rd site in nearly 150 years.

Athfield Architects and project manager RDT Pacific presented a master plan to the board of trustees on Monday evening.

“It looks awesome, but it needs to go to the Ministry (of Education) before we can share it with the community,” he says.

Oxford Area School was established in 1978, with Oxford District High School merging with neighbouring primary schools.

Next year marks 150 years since the district high school was first established, in 1872.

“There are buildings on the site that had a life before being part of Oxford Area School, so the opportunity to design and develop modern classrooms to teach students in the 21st century is very exciting,” Mr Hart says.

The master plan will set a vision for the next 50 years, allowing for the growth of the school on the four-hectare site, before the more detailed design phase begins.

Mr Hart says the redevelopment is likely to see several classroom blocks replaced, along with the school’s administration block and library. Redevelopment of the school’s science block is long overdue, he says.

‘‘It’s quite exciting to be able to redesign a school and essentially swap out old pre-fab classrooms with purpose-built classrooms.

‘‘It will be a staged build because the school has to continue to operate, so once we know the priorities, a phased approach of building will take place so it doesn’t impact on students’ learning.’’

The school roll is sitting at 520 and is expected to grow.

‘‘We finished last year with 520 students and we started with 520 this year, with in excess of 40 new students.

‘‘The largest part of the school is the year 7 to 10s, which is more than 200, so it looks really promising for the future.’’

While it is too early to say what the redevelopment will look like, Mr Hart says the school’s observatory will feature in the redesign.

‘‘We will be making use of the natural environment, the surrounding hills, and acknowledging the night sky, and the observatory is very much a part of our planning.’’

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