A dedicated, purpose-built year nine learning centre will be constructed at Emmanuel College as part of its move to consolidate the school's operations onto the one campus from 2025.
Principal Peter Morgan said the new learning centre, and its innovative 9@RICE program, which launches next year, would benefit them "specifically at a critical juncture in their social and educational development".
He said the stand-alone centre, to cost about $15million, would be built in one corner of the Botanic Road site and linked to the college via a bridge and landscaped gardens.
"This symbolises the transition of our students from juniors, crossing the bridge into the 9@RICE program and then 12 months later, graduating from the program and crossing the bridge to join the senior school as young men and women."
The new building will be constructed over two levels, but is "cleverly designed to look like a single-storey building from most angles". It includes a number of light and airy classrooms, which open up to a courtyard, as well as multi-purpose learning spaces. There is a basketball court area with theatre-style seating and its own facilities.
The centre will enable students to be part of the whole school, whilst experiencing independent learning in the 9@RICE program.
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The unique, college-designed program focuses on resilience, innovation, community and exploration. It has a different approach and delivery while adhering to the Victorian school curriculum.
He said a year-long project-based learning unit would encourage them to problem solve and think differently "conscious of encouraging and enhancing the development of its students, reflective of their developing adolescent brains".
He said students were growing into more complex thinkers and able to apply more logical reasoning to authentic learning situations and social issues. "As educators, we believe in providing opportunities and encouraging the skills to foster this increasing level of self-awareness in a time of significant social and emotional change." he said.
"Year nine is a really critical age. That's not a surprise to anybody. The age of the teenager at that stage of life introduces all sorts of changes and challenges and that flows through to learning.
"Typically across year nine students everywhere, there is a beginning of a disconnect with learning. The project is very much about trying to address that disconnect and maintain that connection, because you lose it there.
"There is a perception if you lose it you can get it back and we can get it back when we get to the senior end, but the loss of the foundational learning that occurs, ultimately has an impact at the senior end of the school."
The new 9@RICE program begins next year from the Canterbury Road campus. Year nine will be the only year level to occupy that campus until late 2024, when the new learning centre is set to be completed.
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