School's rapid expansion brings exciting opportunities, but also challenges


Earlier this year, Australian Christian College in Marsden Park (ACC) was awarded a $5m grant to build a ground-breaking new technology school facility.

The new facility will be fully equipped with STEM learning facilities for students, including video editing rooms with green screens, podcasting rooms, prototyping rooms, robotics labs, virtual reality capability and animation studios.

Now, thanks to even further growth in enrollment figures the school is moving forward with another exciting stage in the school’s building development.

Stages 1 and 2 will be completed and ready for occupation to start the 2022 school year with enrollment figures sitting at around 1,000 students. The buildings will be used as an early learning centre, four science labs and 10 classrooms.

ACC Marsden Park principal, Brendan Corr, said the College is growing at an almost unprecedented rate.

“Just over 12 months ago the school had experienced steady growth from 380 on campus students in Kindergarten to Year 12 to 425 students in 2 years. That was a solid growth of about 10% a year,” he told The Educator.

“In the last six months we have grown to over 555 students on campus – that equates to 30% growth for the start of the new year.” 

Corr said that while it's exciting to be part of a growing community and while extra student numbers allow the College to offer more diverse experiences and options, such growth does present a number of challenges.

“Key amongst that is the need for more classrooms and play space. Additionally, growing so rapidly involves recruiting a large number of new teachers in a relatively short period of time,” he said.

“Also, as a community that is focussed particularly on the character development of students undertaken in the context of uncommon care, assimilating new students and staff into the intended culture without diverting or diluting its core values and practices is always a particular challenge with so many coming from different backgrounds and experiences.” 

Corr says that moving forward it will be important to generate funds to shift away from the overcrowding of demountable classrooms.

“Attracting the support of Government and Independent School agencies the College has been able fast track its Master Plan in response to the rapid growth in interest in and enrolments into the College,” he said.

“Stage 1, to be completed in 2021, prioritises provision of classroom learning spaces. The College's priority is the effective learning of all students, with a focus on the integration of technology across the key learning areas.” 

Corr said a large-scale strategic plan for an expanded campus has ensured that facilities are well planned for to accommodate students and to provide appropriate specialist spaces for the type of technology rich curriculum the College is pursuing.

“This has been supported by conservative management of the College's budget for over a decade that enable it to purchase additional land and to implement state-of-the-art management, infrastructure, and learning technology to ‘future-proof’ the classrooms and the teaching practice,” he said.

“The strength of this planning has been that it has been consistently informed by a cohesive educational philosophy grounded in the faith base of the schools understanding of education and of community.”

Corr said the College has been strategic in appointing key practitioners that bring experience and expertise to a team approach to excellence.

Local educational leaders, with close relationships to the parent and student bodies, work in close collaboration with industry experts who are part of the corporate team allow the College to punch well above its weight in areas such as technology, finance, client services, and curriculum development.”