College plans first-class science facility

An artist's impression of the new building

A state-of-the-art science facility is being planned for Sacred Heart College in Auckland, to build upon and enhance the school’s top record of academic achievement.

A shareholder information meeting was held at the college on August 17, at which headmaster Patrick Walsh explained the need for the new facility.

Mr Walsh said that NCEA results from Sacred Heart are consistently above national averages and schools of similar decile – and this includes achievements in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics subjects. He pointed to the overall 49 NCEA Scholarships achieved last year, which “places Sacred Heart as one of the top performing Catholic High schools in the country”.

Sacred Heart College headmaster Patrick Walsh, proprietor’s board chair Janne Pender, and board of trustees chair Brendan Gibson with an artist’s impression of the new science facility.

The new science facility, which will include nine laboratories, as well as other features, will mean that the college will have “state-of-the-art facilities to match the professional expertise of our science teachers and our talented students”.

“Our outstanding science department, and science students, have been working in sub-optimal classrooms for far too long,” Mr Walsh said.

“They have done an amazing job to get the results they have achieved, but they do deserve better.”

“Science education, as you are aware, is a gateway to rewarding careers and high paying jobs,” Mr Walsh added. “We want here at Sacred Heart College the ideal conditions for each student to fulfil God’s potential for each of them.”

Mr Walsh explained that the new facility comes with a significant price tag of just over $20million.

Those at the stakeholder information evening were told that the cost will be met by a combination of proprietor funding, Government funding – which is allocated to integrated schools for property maintenance and replacement – as well as donations through the Sacred Heart College Development Foundation, and bank funding, with the latter covering about 55 per cent of the cost.

The project will also see the college’s archives have a permanent home, and there will also be some refurbishment of current science classrooms.

Deputy headmaster Jason Cornford told the stakeholder evening that the current ratio of science labs to students at the college is in the vicinity of 1:200, whereas after the completion of this project, the ratio, including [a] roll increase, will be of the order of 1:125, “which will comparable to that of other schools across the city, that we researched”.

Sacred Heart College has been granted a maximum roll increase, so a staged approach will see the maximum roll reach 1500 over the next five years. These additional classrooms will be vital, given the expected growth of the college.

The deputy headmaster added: “With recent Governments across the party divides all promoting the importance of science and technology jobs for the present and future of New Zealand’s economy, it is essential that the students at the school are able to see the future and have experiences that are hands-on and relevant to this vision.”

He noted that somewhere in the region of 45 to 50 per cent of each year-13 year group at Sacred Heart moves on to tertiary study that involves science – including study in fields like engineering, medicine, veterinary science, dentistry and other science-related areas.

Current year-13 student Joseph Bahoo, who has just returned from London where he was an Aotearoa New Zealand representative at the London International Youth Science Forum, spoke about his journey of science at Sacred Heart.

Joseph said: “I am a bit jealous that the new science block is coming after I leave. And I know that future students will utilise it to its greatest potential, and will allow them the opportunity to foster a great relationship with science and lead them to great things in the future.”

Other speakers at the information evening included representatives from the architectural, project management, finance, marketing and governance aspects of the venture.

The meeting was told about expected progress through detailed design completion, consenting, tendering and construction. After a 12-16 month construction period, it is expected that the new facility will be operational some time in 2025.

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Michael Otto

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