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Construction begins on $5.9m Centre for Innovation and Learning at Caroline Chisholm School

By Amy Birchall - 26 April 2017 1

Caroline Chisholm CIL

As the pace of technological change quickens, Canberra schools and universities face the daunting prospect of preparing students to enter a rapidly evolving workforce.

Two-thirds of the fastest-growing occupations now require Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic (STEM) skills. Many of the specialist roles in short supply today – like big data analysts – did not exist a decade ago. And research shows people with STEM qualifications are more valuable to their employers, even when their major field of study is not a role pre-requisite.

So it is good news that the ACT Government is taking steps to nurture local STEM talent, with Member for Brindabella Joy Burch last week turning the first sod for the new Centre for Innovation and Learning at Caroline Chisholm School.

The $5.9 million learning centre will deliver STEM programs to improve student achievement and outcomes in STEM education by developing collaboration, creative thinking and complex problem solving skills. It will have areas for activities including:

  • 3D printing
  • Digital design
  • Robotics activities
  • Chemical, biological and physical science
  • Construction
  • Space discovery and astronomy

Ms Burch said the centre will be used by both Caroline Chisholm students and the broader community, with the potential for collaborations with the Australian National University and the University of Canberra.

“This space will also be available for parents, the general community, undergraduate teachers and for post-graduate students to undertake research projects related to learning and teaching. I can’t wait to see it once it is in full use and producing the innovators of the future,” she said.

The centre is due to open at the start of the 2018 school year. It is just one of many STEM initiatives underway in the ACT, with others including play-based programs that introduce preschoolers to STEM thinking and astronaut visits to public schools.

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One Response to
Construction begins on $5.9m Centre for Innovation and Learning at Caroline Chisholm School
bj_ACT 2:00 pm
26 Apr 17

Good to see the Government start to take some action to help struggling students in the outer burbs.

The NAPLAN (link below) PISA & TIMSS (not publically published) results have been nosediving over the last decade for schools in the outer Canberra suburbs (results have been increasingly bad for Tuggeranong Schools in particular which basically fill all the places for bottom performing Canberra schools (excl Charnwood).

The ACT Government has been actively ignoring the issue and hiding behind some Low Socio Economic Student excuses which do not hold any water in Canberra where not a single Suburb (except Symonston) is in the bottom 25% of Socio Economic Disadvantage for Australia.

I really hope the government starts to properly fund some of the struggling schools in Canberra at both a student, site and teacher level. Instead of using the current funding model which is more suited to funding the socio economic differences between Western Sydney and the North Shore or the differences between Moree and Lennox Head.

The current model is not adequately designed to properly fund the differences between students down in Banks or the rich kids from Forrest which are both in the highest quintile for least Socio Economic disadvantaged in Australia. But you tell me if you think the students in Banks in the far south of Tuggeranong are the same economically as the students from Forrest.

Adoption of the Gonski model will not help target struggling schools in Canberra due to the high overall Socio Economic scoring that groups all Canberra Suburbs roughly together. Note that the ABS Statistical Area 1 SES used for individually scoring students covers very few parts of Canberra (unlike the rest of Australia). In short the ACT Government should target the bottom 25% of Canberra Students not the very few who fall into the bottom 25% of Australian students.

This table shows just how poorly the Caroline Chisolm School is performing and why its good that Joy Birch has made a very small start to address the inequities in Public education across Canberra.

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