The first educational campus in Western Australia, where both a Government and non-Government school will share facilities, is to be built at Beeliar, in the City of Cockburn, south of Perth.
Education Minister Colin Barnett yesterday unveiled a plaque at the site of the two schools, to mark the start of the unique project, a joint venture between the Education Department and the Uniting Church of Australia Schools Education Commission.
Beeliar Primary School and St Luke's Primary School will be built side-by-side, with joint facilities in the centre - a library, a covered assembly area, an art and craft centre and a music room. The two schools will also share netball courts and an oval.
In addition, the City of Cockburn is to be invited to join the co-operative project through an agreement for joint development and maintenance of playing fields and other facilities which can be used by both the schools and the local community.
Mr Barnett said he was delighted that the Government and non-Government sectors had joined together in such a unique project that was a win-win situation for all involved.
"The Education Department will contribute $1 million as its share of the cost of the joint facilities when St Luke's school is built next year," he said.
"Both schools will open in 1999.
"This is a fantastic opportunity to make maximum use out of the many facilities we see in our schools today. By sharing facilities, the campus will offer excellent educational opportunities for children in the Beeliar area.
"From the beginning, parents will have a choice of Government and non-Government schools, which is not often the case in new suburban developments. The agreement also allows the Government school, Beeliar Primary, to open its doors years earlier than otherwise would have been possible.
"The venture provides educational benefits to both schools through the special joint facilities, but will still allow each school to develop its own identity and ethos. It opens the way to a creative sharing of staff, resources and professional ideas, and the students and their education will be the main beneficiaries."
Initially, the Education Department will lease spare classrooms from St Luke's to house Government school students - expected to number about 120 across all years, from kindergarten to year seven in the first year.
In years to come, when the leased classrooms are required by St Luke's Primary, or Government student numbers make it necessary to expand, the first permanent classrooms for Beeliar will be constructed.
Mr Barnett said a joint venture committee, with representatives of both the non-Government and Government school sectors, had met regularly to ensure that planning and preparation for the campus went smoothly.
Negotiations and planning had been under way for more than two years.
The concept for the joint campus was modelled on the successful Aberfoyle Park campus in Adelaide, which had operated since 1982 with Government, Uniting Church and Catholic schools sharing facilities and resources on a single site.
The Minister paid tribute to the cooperation of the United Church's Schools Education Commission in the planning and establishment of the joint development and in particular, to the work of the Rev. Owen Roberts, executive officer of the commission.
Media contact: Justine Whittome, (08) 9222 9699