Learning Spaces

The $14 million redevelopment of St Catherine’s junior school Barbreck is on track to open in the middle of next year.

The new three-level junior school building is currently under construction along the Toorak school’s Heyington Place frontage and will accommodate up to 250 students with a focus on personalised learning.

It’s the school’s most significant building project for 50 years and features 14 classrooms, specialist learning studios and labs for STEM, art, music and language; a new library and resource centre, anauditorium, gallery and individual instrumental tuition rooms.

St Catherine’s principal Mrs Michelle Carroll says as literacy is at the heart of all learning, the new library and resource centre has been located at the heart of the new Barbreck building’s design.

“Its central location means the girls will walk through the library and resource centre every day.  Reading is a shared experience for younger children so parents and grandparents will also be encouraged to visit.”

To ensure Barbreck’s new facilities reflected the latest learning innovations and technologies, Michelle and junior school head Mrs Alana Moor researched learning space design in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.

“I visited girls’ schools in New York where the STEM agenda is flourishing and clearly lifting access to science and technology with students busy coding, designing and building,” Michelle says.

St Catherine’s has placed a high priority on STEM learning in recent years with girls encouraged to consider careers in STEM industries.

“Our junior school students will have the advantage of a purpose-built STEM lab and a specialist STEM teacher and know that STEM learning is just as important as music, art and language,” says Michelle.

Another key influence was the widely acclaimed design of the Royal Children’s Hospital with its welcoming and inclusive environment and extensive use of graphics on glass – ideas which have inspired Barbreck’s design.

Michelle says St Catherine’s Junior School has a proud history of academic achievement, laying the educational foundation for generations of women – leaders and pioneers of industry, philanthropy, medicine, law and music.

Former Barbreck students include the Governor of Victoria, the Honourable Linda Dessau and Lady Southey who was Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria from 2001 to 2006.


Refreshed & Renewed

St Catherine’s Junior School Outdoor space

After the new junior school building is completed in the middle of next year, the existing buildings will be demolished to make way for a new landscaped play and sport precinct, The Village Green.  Securely enclosed within the school campus The Village Green will feature a perimeter running track, strength and agility play equipment, a vegetable garden and quieter sitting spaces.


Liz McLachlan

The Weekly Review

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