Experience has taught me that when we eventually have the whole project completed and when are enjoying the new facilities the pain of past inconvenience can dissipate. The reality is that we are very close to completion in both the building work and the external infrastructure works.
There are three new buildings as a part of Stage B building works – Callan, Kilkenny and Westcourt. Callan and Kilkenny are the two more visible buildings adjacent to the top roundabout at the main Edmund Rice Building, while Westcourt is somewhat a mystery to most as it is nestled down out of sight on the banks of the river. The new classrooms and specialist facilities including STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) rooms and Music rooms in Callan and Kilkenny are being well used and we hope to have the final two new science rooms and two design technology spaces online next week. The clean-up and landscaping around Callan and Kilkenny is underway and similarly we would hope the majority of this will be finalised by the end of next week. The third building Westcourt is nearing completion and we hope that the builders will hand over the new tuckshop, library, classrooms and counselling /careers office by the end of next week and we hope to be able to have these facilities near to operational in the week after camps.
Tour of New Buildings
Before the end of term we will have an open afternoon and a morning for any families across the College who would like to look over the new facilities. We are genuinely excited in what the facilities will bring to the College. Fulton Trotter Architects have given us modern, practical and stylish buildings that will form a practical cornerstone as we grow the school out. Teachers using the new rooms have been very positive about the rooms and how they are conducive as learning spaces.
The external infrastructure works includes the new internal road and drop off zone, new car park, new entrance off Kate Street, landscaping and associated roadworks in Kate Street and Witton Road. The majority of this work is now nearing completion and from my observations much of the traffic congestion from the first week has now settled. Unfortunately incomplete works, unforeseen and unplanned interruptions due to construction work in peak times, the expected increased number of parents dropping off at a new school and reduced sporting activities after school all meant a very chaotic first week on the afternoon traffic front. As we enter our fourth week and the reality that we see more students catching buses and trains, more students involved in afternoon activities, pick up routines settled and parents more familiar with the new access routes has seen a more settled life around the College after school. I would remind parents that the new parking adjacent to the new student set down area is now operational for staff and parents. Once again I would like to thank everyone for your patience and co-operation in this change process.
Safety is always a concern around schools and we are trying to ensure that we are identifying potential problem areas. While some boys are very diligent in following instructions, some boys (particularly when they are talking to mates or rushing to get somewhere) can forget to use designated crossings or not look when they are using pedestrian crossings. As a help to the messages we are trying to ensure all students hear around safety, could I ask all parents who drop their sons off or pick their sons up when crossing a road is necessary, to remind them of using crossings and to look before they cross even on an internal road and even if they are using a designated pedestrian crossing. With such a large student setdown space on the new internal road, it is important we educate students to use the marked pedestrian crossing.
I know that most parents would be aware of the media coverage on the latest round of Enterprise Bargaining for staff in Catholic schools. The College operates within a collective bargaining arrangement within Religious Institute Boys schools and the wider Catholic school network. Industrially the College does not negotiate in insolation around industrial matters. The aim of the collective agreement is to ensure equity amongst like schools is maintained and from my own personal viewpoint as a safeguard for employees and employers in this regard. From media reports you would be aware that in a number of Catholic schools a majority of teachers and support staff who are members of the Independent Education Union voted to take industrial action in the form of a full day work stoppage on Thursday 25 February and a delay in responding to and / or actioning emails for a period of 30 days. This vote was on a school by school basis rather than a collective vote. Here at Ambrose Treacy College the required number of staff who are members of the IEU was not met and as such the College will not be subject to these actions. Settling industrial matters is always a complex issue and is never as simple as we see when we are presented with two quite contrary positions in the media by Union representatives or Employer representatives. I will always respect the right of individual employees to take appropriate industrial action. For Ambrose Treacy College it means that whilst a whole day strike is not an option for next Thursday, following up from voting that took place last year, teachers and support staff who are Union members have the right and may choose to take a one hour or a series of one hour stop work meetings on that Thursday morning. It would be the College’s intention to ensure that next Thursday February 25 will be a normal day at the College (or as close to a normal day as is possible) and relief staff will be engaged to cover any staff absences.
Term Dates 2017
I know a number of parents need to look in the future to make arrangements re travel etc. and they try to work around the College term dates to minimize disruption to the children’s study at school. With this in mind I would like to confirm the school term dates for 2017. The 2017 term dates are:
Term 1 – 24 January – 31 March 2017
Term 2 – 18 April – 16 June 2017
Term 3 – 10 July – 15 September 2017
Term 4 – 3 October – 24 November 2017
My absence next week
I would like to advise the community that I will be absent from the College next week. With the busyness of life around the College during the Christmas period with all the building taking place, I was not able to get a break. As such I will be taking a week of vacation leave next week to have a chance to quickly recharge some batteries for the year ahead. In my absence I would encourage you to please contact David Gardiner (Deputy Principal) or Glynis Galletly (Principal PA) for any matters you feel you would normally address with me.
Mr Michael Senior, Principal