Blue Gum Community School wants to reimagine education, starting young

Blue Gum Community School wants to reimagine education, starting young

by Freya Lucas

October 22, 2021

A new community school will commence in Term 1 2022 from the heritage listed Mount Errington House, seeking to “reimagine education” for children from preschool to Year 2 in the Sydney suburb of Hornsby.

 

With recent approval given for the school to be registered as a non-government coeducational school, the leadership of the newly formed school community is looking forward to welcoming young learners from January next year to share in the history and gardens of the school’s unique setting. 

 

The small school, which is in walking distance from the town centre of Hornsby, will cater for 48 students, including in an extended hours preschool setting. 

 

Collaborative learning culture

 

Instead of more traditional modelling, Blue Gum will focus on building a collaborative learning culture that invites students to commit deeply to their own learning, while simultaneously listening to, respecting and learning from others.

 

Thankfully, the leadership has a successful working model in Blue Gum Community School, Canberra, where children have been working, learning, and growing as a community since 1988. Like its highly regarded sister school in Canberra, Blue Gum Community School Hornsby is small by design, and the importance of significant and respectful relationships are placed at the top of the priority list for children and staff alike.

 

Both Blue Gum schools offer a 1:12 (educator:student) ratio in Primary to reflect the school’s value for relationships and every child being known and celebrated.

 

Innovation makes lower ratio possible

 

Partnerships with tertiary institutions, internship programs for graduate teachers and careful planning make this ratio possible, new principal, Ms Jill McLachlan, explained. 

 

“Large schools don’t suit every child. Blue Gum exists for those children who would thrive in a more personalised, intimate and connected community.”

 

Including young learners through the co-location of the extended hours preschool is another way that Blue Gum seeks to be an inclusive community. 

 

“Including our youngest citizens in inquiry together with older minds beautifully blurs the line between early childhood and the early years of school. We’ve seen how it creates a seamless transition for children moving from Preschool into Kindergarten, and beyond.” 

 

Designed with care

 

Refurbishment and repair works are now underway in order to meet the opening day deadlines, with works approved by the Independent Planning Commission and recommended for approval by both the Department of Planning, Industry & Environment and Hornsby Shire Council.

 

“Every corner of the new Blue Gum Hornsby school has been carefully designed and constructed to protect and celebrate the heritage of the home and its surrounding landscape, while evolving as a school for children,” a spokesperson said.

 

The interior layout of the house remains intact, the original floor boards are “revealed in all their glory,” all fireplaces have been refurbished, a “grand circular drive” has been introduced and an all-natural play space integrated into the rear gardens, complementing the extensive and established plantings.

 

Roots in history, eyes on the future

 

Ms McLachlan explained the vision of persevering and protecting the history of the building while also evolving the space into a school with its eyes “firmly fixed on the future.” 

 

“Schools are places of culture that shape our shared future,” she said. “At Blue Gum we are determined to resist outdated school cultures that place students in competition with one another, valuing compliance over commitment and placing certain types of learning (and learners) ahead of others. The future demands we rethink what sort of people we are hoping students to become and consider how the way we ‘do school’ influences that evolution.”

 

Applications are now invited for a small number of vacancies in Preschool, Kindergarten and Year 1 in 2022. Visit www.bluegum.nsw.edu.au for details.

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