CBC Fremantle | In Touch

Looking to the future

In this week's edition of InTouch, I would like to share with our community the College's plans to expand and improve the physical amenity of our campus.

We have come a long way since the late 1990s when there was a question mark about CBC Fremantle's financial viability due to declining student numbers. Conversations about closing the doors, or looking at co-ed options continued into the 21st century. At the time, the Brothers determined that any possibility of survival was linked to having a first-class gymnasium and that prescience, as well as many other factors, have us where we are today.

CBC Fremantle is now a school of choice with strong enrolments for the foreseeable future and an explicit point of difference. As I said at our recent Awards Evening, this point of difference does not minimise the other facets of a holistic education offered at CBC. All other aspects of a quality education, including academic, sporting and artistic success, are as important at our College as they are at any other school. Recently, the College was featured in an Australian educational magazine as the feature article. The report covers the Year 8 learning project and the way the College was addressing 21st century learning skills as well as encouraging a love for learning in the boys. The Year 9 boys completed their Rite Journey this week but their Academic Journey is still to peak this year. The boys will soon sit their first formal exams and then they will be engaged in a collaborative project with the Year 9 girls from Iona Presentation College. It is an interesting project, with CBC alumni, the oldest from the class of 1967 and the youngest from the class of 2017, providing authentic real-world problems that they encounter for the students to grapple with. The topics are complex and have ethical considerations and, besides collaboration and teamwork, the students will have the opportunity to continue to develop their creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving skills with ideas and innovation being at the core of this 'future skills' learning opportunity. Their solutions will be presented on a website, which they will develop, and published to our community.

All this is fantastic, exciting and augers well for the future, but the reality is that there are parts of our infrastructure that are not commensurate with the excellence of other elements of the College. We are an old school, with more than a century of tradition, and our buildings have evolved over this period. It is not our buildings that have our waiting lists bursting, it is our people, and the proof is in the exceptional young men who graduate. However, we recognise the need to upgrade our amenities and for this reason the College has been developing a Master Plan to address our shortcomings in this area. The result of having a land-locked footprint is that we have no spare space or rooms and the usual methodology that schools use for building projects, that is to bring in some demountables and put them on the oval, is not available to us. To overcome this issue, the College has entered into a lease arrangement with the owners of 223 High Street, which is directly across from the College. The space will provide six new classrooms, an office, reception, staff study, ablutions and a common area. It is our intention to use this building as a Year 12 hub, where they will receive the majority of their tuition and have a large area to spend their breaks in. The lease is for six years in the first instance, which is the maximum time we estimate is needed to address all the building improvements that have been identified on the main site. A 'type B' guard crossing has been approved and a traffic risk plan will be developed by a traffic engineer to ensure crossing at High Street is performed in the safest way. This crossing will also benefit all boys who catch the bus and are dropped off on High Street. At the moment they need to walk a few hundred metres in the opposite direction to cross at the lights, and the temptation to take a short cut is ever-present. It will also reduce pedestrian traffic after school on Ellen Street, as boys living south of the College will be able to egress via the High Street gate should they wish.

Meanwhile, the building we have planned for our property on 162 High Street is currently before Council. This facility will be primarily an Arts precinct, with a green room, art studio and areas for Media, Music and the peripatetic lessons. It will also house a 200-seat lecture theatre with retractable seating. Not only will we be able to accommodate our Drama, Music and Visual Arts productions, we will have a professional venue to meet our parents and staff. It is also planned that the theatre can be used to help transition our boys to adult education and provide flexibility so that certain specialist classes are not determined by square metreage.

The second and third stages of the Master Plan involve redesigning the western side of the Cloisters, with the additions of a new stairwell and a lift, and a complete refurbishment of the aging Marshall Wing. Dark and narrow stairwells, balconies and corridors will be replaced with modern, airy and brightly-lit learning spaces and offices and an aesthetically pleasing presentation to Ellen Street. I can also share with you that I have challenged the Alumni Association with the goal of returning the Chapel exterior to its original state. They have already met with a heritage builder and project management specialists, and I am hopeful this seed sprouts.

I have included a few photos and architect impressions in this communication and will provide an update at the Parent Information Evenings in 2021, but in closing out this year I wanted to share this excitement and ensure you that we continue to seek excellence across all areas of the College's operations.

And finally, more good news! There will not be any extra building levies additional to the College facilities levy that is clearly outlined in current fees, or a big hike in fees to cover the costs. Thanks to our families paying their fees and continuing to support their son's education through what has been a difficult year for many, CBC Fremantle has a sound bottom line, good reserves and positive enrolment trends.

God Bless you all!

Mr Domenic Burgio

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