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21st Century Childcare

The All Saints' College Junior School looks a little different lately as the first stage of the Waabiny project – the College's new integrated Childcare Centre – is well underway, marking the significant step in further developing the connected, inclusive and diverse community at ASC. 

The current construction site is the beginning of a new Facilities and Operations Centre as well as 52 new parking bays in the Junior School carpark with improved vehicle access, making the College more accessible and safe for the entire community. This is part of a long-term project that aims to eventually make space for an innovative Childcare Centre to be established on campus.

The first stage, building the new Grounds and Maintenance Facility, commenced in August this year. Once completed (estimated completion is March 2023) the old grounds shed will then be demolished which will free up that location for the building of the new car park.

The building of the Childcare Centre will be the final stage in the project and will see the opportunity, in 2024, for hundreds of new and existing families to continue or begin their All Saints' College journey during the early years of childhood.

Godden Projects, with Architects Matthew Crawford and Tom Godden working in collaboration, have been selected to deliver a design that will be stunning, yet rooted firmly in the overarching ethos of the College and the land upon which it sits.

“I think one of the key points is around it being sympathetic to the landscape. It's very much about acknowledging that we're on Gabiljee, Whadjuk Noongar land. This is not our country, and we need to be very thoughtful in the way we create this footprint,” said Director of Junior School Ms Penelope Crane.

The need for a Childcare Centre is borne partly from the need to be able to offer full-time Kindergarten to families and increase the capacity for Pre-Kindergarten from one day a week.

“At enrolment interviews, parents often ask if there's any scope to have more Pre-Kindergarten days available for their child,” said Penelope. “There are several services currently offering full-time Pre-Kindergarten and, as a College with a strong reputation in the early years of education, the Childcare Centre seemed to be a very natural way of expanding what we do here.”

(Progress photo: November 2022)

The design of the building will reflect ASC's Early Childhood philosophy, centred around play-based learning for inquiring and creative minds, as well as integrate the College's natural landscape.

“The ASC philosophy of Early Childhood is strongly centred on play-based, child-centred learning that has a focus on nature and inquiry. The new building is very much about creating a welcoming space for families – a beautiful space – that will look impressive and inspire people to think 'Wow! This College greatly values the education of our youngest',” said Penelope.

“We sought input from our students early on. We had several drawings and artistic impressions created by our Year 5s, as part of an Inquiry. They met with the architects, and they talked to them about what is important to them.”

The reception area will encourage child agency, a focus at the College, with a dedicated area for children to be able to speak with the adults and be listened to with respect as they get ready for another day.

Babies will take residence closest to the entry; a deliberate decision so that parents can go straight in to settle or feed their child.  

As the children progress in age, they will gradually move through the rooms with the oldest children overlooking the wider campus from the highest point in the Centre. This is a deliberate decision that shows the level of thought the project team has put into the design.

(Photo: Construction Commencement Ceremony - September, 2022)

“It's going to be a beautiful space, and it's also going to be incredible because when it's raining, or the sun is too hot, the children are still going to be able play outdoors protected from the elements. It is very much around the needs of the children and their phases of development, the natural milestones,” said Penelope.

Assuming a 2024 completion date for the new Childcare Centre, it is conceivable that the Class of 2039 could see the first-ever students progress from childcare through to Year 12.

“Our aim is for our Childcare Centre children to feel they’ve experienced something very special, and if they do move on elsewhere that they leave with a good feeling about their time with us. Of course, we also hope to welcome them back if they decide to return later in their school life.”