After nearly five long years of waiting, Waimea College has finally opened its new teaching block.
The school, which has experienced a swelling roll in recent years to around 1650, had to add eight temporary classrooms and convert the library and staffroom into teaching spaces to cope as the school continued to grow, while plans to expand the school seemed to stall.
Waimea College principal Scott Haines says that he is thrilled with the result.
“Seeing students and teachers in that new building, and loving being there, was just a magic sight.”
The new block gives the school nine new classrooms, and another eight are currently under construction.
The new development is the first stage of a multi-stage growth and development plan that the board has undertaken for a projected roll growth of up to 2000 students.
Construction started on the project a year ago, but the planning has been going on for over five years, when Scott started in his role as principal at Waimea College.
“I’ve been upfront that we have been frustrated with the delays to this project. At our worst, we were 13 teaching spaces behind based on our roll. We were teaching students in our staffroom. That is not fair to our students,” Scott says.
He puts the delays down in part to trying to get the Ministry of Education to recognise the roll growth of the school.
“There is a lot of bureaucratic processes that you have to go through between different arms of the ministry, and years go by. The ministry really has to see those students on the roll before they recognise the growth,” Scott says.
“We are at the chalkface, seeing the students each day using temporary classrooms.”
The new teaching area, ‘R Block’ which was opened this week, is a specialist Maths and Earth Sciences teaching block. Scott says that it was specifically designed with a focus to grow Earth Sciences at Waimea College to ‘better align ourselves with the Primary Industries on our doorstep, with an Agribusiness focus.’
The block includes a specialist Agriculture and Horticulture class, which will provide a garden for agriculture and horticulture students to use.
Along with office space for teachers, the new block also includes ‘breakout’ spaces where students can work independently, and classrooms with collapsible walls, so that two classrooms can join to become one large teaching space.
Richard Keys, head of mathematics, says that the new building means that teachers can deliver a much more flexible teaching programme.
“We can do so much more than in the old tradition classrooms. We’re really excited to see how it works. It’s all about the flexibility,” he says.
Year 13 student Leila Challenger says that she and her fellow students are thrilled with the new space.
“It’s a lot lighter, and it feels more open. There’s a lot more space to spread out.”