A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school on Kaurna Country, Adelaide, South Australia

Early Learning to Year 12

From the Principal - Edition 8 - 2020

Schools in some regions of Australia have only just recommenced with students and parents trying to re-adjust to what has been a very disjointed year. At Westminster, our students have had a near unbroken year to date, requiring only three days of full online/at home learning. As the term has progressed, we have been able to reintroduce more and more into our daily programs. Our Property Services team is busy preparing our grounds for co-curricular fixtures that we are all wanting to see get underway. As recovery guidelines are updated, we will be able to advise of the opening of the pool, Westswim Swim School and other programs.

Student learning is at the core of what we do so virtually everything we have been reporting in recent times has been focused on this. In the ‘background’, our building program has been ticking over nicely, largely unaffected by COVID-19. If you have been in the School grounds recently, you will have noticed some pretty significant progress within our construction sites:

  • Our headliner, the Inquiry and Innovation Hub is over 80% complete and the spaces are beginning to show their real potential. School Captain Kaine Baldwin and Vice Captain Ruby Liptak recently joined me on a ‘sneak peek’ tour. They were amazed by the classrooms, student break out spaces, the overall design and sheer size. Ruby was even considering coming back for Year 13 to use the new specialist learning spaces. Kaine wondered how we would manage to get students out of the hub, such is its appeal! Our academic staff are already planning for curriculum delivery in the new hub and how this will benefit every student from upper primary to Year 12 for starters.
  • Over by the Sports and Swimming Centre, the Sports Pavilion has literally risen from the ground with four new changerooms and a players’ race that will create esprit des corps and confidence as the Dragons take to the fields. We are ready to launch a competition for budding designers to create a sports-themed design to be immortalised in the internal changerooms. The grandstands and the function room will provide our supporters with comfort, shelter and facilities. Within the next stage of building works nearby, a new café will add to our amenities for students and community alike.
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  • In another major coup, solar panels are being added to rooftops across the School and within months we will be generating up to a third of our own electricity requirements. This project has been fully funded through a State Government grant and major gifts from a small band of very generous supporters who are proudly committed to Westminster and its future success.
  • Our Health Centre has been significantly renovated and expanded to provide better care facilities for our students, particularly those in Boarding.
  • Once we have moved into the Inquiry and Innovation Hub, the installation of the new Art Centre in the 300 Block will commence.

Looking ahead, the renovation and renewal of a number of Preparatory School learning spaces is now under discussion. To see Westminster’s campus being transformed is incredibly exciting and forms another chapter in our nearly 60 years as a school.

Given what is still underway, some of you may be wondering whether there will be another annual Giving Day in 2020. While last year’s Giving Day was a phenomenal success, it is an emphatic ‘no’ for this year. While we will always welcome our community to join us in making sure Westminster is a leader amongst the best schools in South Australia, this year began like no other for all of us with the horror of widespread bushfires and the growing threat of COVID-19. Like the rest of Australia, our State and community are in recovery mode and there needs to be time to allow for significant healing and repair before we would appeal to our community again. What we can do is thank you all for your past contributions that have gone a long way to the budgeted projects underway.

In a boldly contemporary shift in learning opportunities, we are wanting to link with many industries through the new Inquiry and Innovation Hub to help students prepare for life beyond school. We are keen to forge strong partnerships with our community, starting with those interested in becoming an industry sponsor or in-kind supporter to suit the STEAM focus of this new learning centre. Our School Foundation has some inspiring ideas to create business and industry connections that are sure to benefit you too. If you would like to find out more, please contact our Foundation Executive Officer Carly Hocking (’93), E: chocking@westminster.school.

We hope that you will be able to join us for the building openings later this year, possibly early in Term 4. We’ll be sharing ‘save the dates’, once we have clarity round the size and type of function we can hold within the prevailing COVID -19 guidelines.

Westminster is changing, as it has done over the past 60 years, but rest assured that underneath all of this activity lies a school that has never lost sight of its values and the value of its community. If your Westminster connection was in its earliest years or is about to be begin, you have every right to be proud of how Westminster has grown and continues to advance, having thousands of students graduate to become kind and useful citizens. Our community support continues to be nothing short of sensational and again, we express our gratitude for your patience and understanding during this very different year.

Simon Shepherd