Credit to commitment

The redevelopment of Hunter Sports High School is nearly complete.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: It was important that the school would be able to meet the demands of students now and into the future as the landscape of education changes at a rapid rate.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: It was important that the school would be able to meet the demands of students now and into the future as the landscape of education changes at a rapid rate.

The project includes 26 general classrooms and 13 specialist classrooms (food technology, wood and metalwork, visual and performing arts), a movement complex with dynamic spaces for assemblies and presentations, canteen and weights room, a library, administration building and reception area.

I feel honoured to have been able to contribute to the design of a school that will influence generations of students from now and many years into the future. 

As a PE teacher, I am very passionate about sport and education. As an educator to be able to have input into the design and build of a school whilst so much is changing in education has been extremely rewarding. 

Prior to the announcement of the funding, Hunter Sports led the way as a change-maker in looking for better ways to engage students of today. 

We were the first school in the Hunter and one of the first in the State to adopt Big Picture learning in 2012 as an option that was an alternative way of educating students who were at risk of disengaging from school. 

The redevelopment program has been a very steep learning curve and support and advice from experts including Peter Lippman, a classroom design consultant who has worked closely with me, has been invaluable. Peter has also worked with  staff to create activity-based learning environments that support the everyday experiences of learners. 

It was important that we designed learning environments that offer students and teachers flexibility, classrooms whereby students can work independently and cooperatively in small or larger groups and where learning can be personalised, relationships are built and students can be inspired to learn. 

The staff have worked hard over the last three years to ensure they are well equipped to teach in the new spaces. It was important that even with new school buildings, ultimately it is pedagogy and the teaching strategies of the staff that will ultimately ensure improved student learning outcomes. 

As a school we have invested significantly in staff professional learning to adapt the skills of teachers for future focused learning. 

What the new school environments  provide is  better access to technology and learning environments that allow for more personalisation and greater opportunities for project-based learning and collaboration. 

The last few years have been amazing and presented many challenges that the project team had to work through. I am so thankful for the wonderful team including Leanne Slaney, the School Administration Manager, who have worked side by side  every day  to solve  problems that regularly came our way. 

Keeping the school operational and ensuring workplace health and safety issues were managed whilst teaching and learning was still able to take place has been a huge logistical challenge.

Many thanks to the construction team from Hansen Yuncken, especially site managers Michael Neighbour and Robert Peterson, who were very flexible and supportive ensuring we minimised the disruption to teaching and learning whilst we knocked down nearly every building on site. 

It is a credit to all involved that despite the disruption, (at one stage for approximately six months we were operating within a 20% area whilst the redevelopment took place across the rest of the school site) we have seen some of our best NAPLAN results in the last two years and a significant increase in positive behaviours.

Hunter Sports High School

Hunter Sports High School (HSHS) is a partially selective public high school  with 780 students. 

Enrolments include students from the local drawing area of Windale, Gateshead, Gateshead West and Mount Hutton (380 students), as well as students selected to participate in the Talented Sports Program coming from the local area, the Central Coast, Hunter Valley, Port Stephens and beyond (400 students).

“As a diverse community high school HSHS caters to a wide variety of demographics and student needs, including a support unit of three classes [34 students] for students with mild and moderate intellectual disabilities,” Principal Rachel Byrne said. 

The school offers students a broad and personalised academic curriculum delivered by a committed staff focused on innovative, quality teaching practices. 

Key programs underpin a commitment to providing exemplary educational outcomes for every student. 

Talented Sports Program: HSHS has 18 internal (teachers) and 24 external coaches delivering high quality sports programs in 13 sports which consistently produce regional, state, Australian and international representatives. 

Big Picture Education: HSHS offers Big Picture Education in Years 8-12. Big Picture learning is defined by its commitment to educate "one student at a time" in a community of learners. The model enables students to develop individual learning goals and plans aligned to their passion. 

Aboriginal Education: With 22% of students from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background, the school enjoys a strong reputation for providing a supportive environment and a close partnership with the local Minimbah Aboriginal Educational Consultative Group. HSHS’s  Aboriginal support programs have  been identified as a best practice model for high schools.