An Illawarra principal has backed trialling separate morning and afternoon schools in NSW.
Dapto High School principal Andrew FiitzSimons’ stance comes hot on the heels of a Sydney Morning Herald story stating NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes was considering a trial, to reduce traffic peaks and address the enrolment boom.
Mr Stokes was speaking at the launch of a new report into school design by architecture and engineering firm Arup on Tuesday when he said: “Effectively having double schools by having morning and afternoon schools is one option, it's already being done in some countries”.
As we respond to that tsunami of incoming residents, there will be opportunities for this sort of stuff to be discussed.
The education minister added this would create problems in the middle of the day and there were no concrete plans to do so but “how I'd like to look at that is by piloting it to see how it would work”.
Mr FitzSimons backed this approach, adding it was a very sound idea.
“I think you could easily make a case for saying starting later would be good for adolescents,” he said.
“There is some interesting research on teenagers, particularly teenage boys to say that a later start is better for their brain, for their circadian rhythm.
“At Dapto High we are very unusual in that we start at 8.28am and finish at 2.40pm. We have the earliest finish of any school I know.”
Mr FitzSimons also praised the education minister’s call for school’s to be more agile in using the infrastructure.
He also agreed with Mr Stokes that all schools, including private schools, are public buildings and should be opened up to the community.
“We [Dapto High] are open 42 weeks of the year…..we have lots of community use. All but Wednesday night, we have community use up to 9pm,” Mr FitzSimons said.
The principal also concurred that schools being built now needed to look at new ways of teaching, look towards the next century and be designed in partnership with the local community.
“I think he [Mr Stokes] is a really smart man. What he is saying is this is a chance of a lifetime to build sustainable buildings. He recognises that the look and design of school buildings is important for learning,” Mr FitzSimons said.
“My understanding is that the aim is to have very high quality portable buildings made to smooth out the demographic ebbs and flows – that is intriguing.
“Wollongong City Council says there will be 53,000 new residents in West Dapto.
“As we respond to that tsunami of incoming residents, there will be opportunities for this sort of stuff to be discussed.
“In the meantime we at Dapto High are doing everything we can to make our school buildings gorgeous, interesting and intriguing.”