New school welcomes kinder kids

A new purpose-built public school in Ryde opened its doors today welcoming its first cohort of Kindergarten students.

03 February 2020
Willamena Judd standing in the middle of a my first day board
Image: New student Willamena Judd at Smalls Road Public School.

It was a day of firsts for Willamena Judd.

Not only was it the four-year-old's first day of school, she also got to meet the NSW Premier for the first time as Gladys Berejiklian toured her classroom to celebrate Smalls Road Public School's first full day.

Smalls Road Public School is one of seven new public schools opening in NSW this semester - four primary and three high schools - that will help cater for a once-in-a-generation spike in school enrolments.

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell, who also visited Smalls Road Public School, said the state had a record number of students enrolled in NSW schools in 2020.

Ms Mitchell said approximately 497,000 primary school students and 318,000 high school students had already enrolled for the new school year, with 71,000 alone starting Kindergarten.

"I know how daunting this experience can be for many families across NSW but parents can rest assured their children will be learning in state-of-the-art facilities, with fantastic staff and principals on hand to nurture your child," Ms Mitchell said.

"It's great to see so many happy faces here at Smalls Road this morning, and I can't wait for students to enjoy this school for decades to come."

Smalls Road Public School Principal Megan Gibbons said the new school would cater to 60 Kindergarten students this year before it became a fully operational K-6 school in 2021 with a capacity for 1,000 students.

"It's a purpose-built, new school; a circular building that gives the school a feeling of community and togetherness," Ms Gibbons said.

When fully functional the school would have 43 learning spaces including three special education classes.

Other facilities include three special purpose rooms, a hall, a two-storey library, covered outdoor learning areas, out-of-school-hours care facilities, a canteen, administration facilities, multipurpose sports courts, and a kiss and ride area for 47 cars.

Parent Jo Judd said she shared Willamena's excitement about starting her school life at a brand new school.

"We are really excited about Willamena attending the new school at Smalls Road and the opportunity for her to learn in such an innovative environment," Mrs Judd said.

Ms Gibbons said the school would also benefit from an integrated support unit to cater for students with special needs.

"A school should be able to cater for everyone, whether they're gifted and talented or have development needs," she said.

Ms Gibbons said it was a tough decision to leave her role as principal of Asquith Public School to take up the reins at Smalls Road.

"But it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to establish a positive culture. It's very exciting to be able to develop this school from the very beginning and to realise the vision of what teachers and the parents want from the school," she said

Parent Anu Malhi, whose son Kayden started at the school, was impressed with the "future focus learning" offered by the school.

"It's an agile environment where they have options of doing their work in different spaces," he said.

"That's the way the world is going so it's great they have experience of that at an early age. There's also a focus on collaboration which is also a good way to get kids to help each other out when they need it."

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