Stratford primary welcomes new grants

Member for Eastern Victoria, Tom McIntosh and Stratford Primary School Principal, Kate Steele at the future site of the school's new outdoor learning space. Photo: Contributed

MORE students with disability and additional needs will have the support they deserve thanks to a funding boost by the state government to develop a new outdoor learning space designed to accommodate children with disabilities.

Member for Eastern Victoria, Tom McIntosh joined Stratford Primary School Principal, Kate Steele to announce the school will share in more than $9 million to create facilities suitable for students of all abilities, as part of Round 9 of the state government’s Inclusive Schools Fund (ISF).

Stratford Primary School is receiving $299,566 through the fund.

The project will expand on the school’s successful wellbeing program by providing students with a new outdoor learning facility next to the kitchen garden for classes, play, and weekly mental wellbeing sessions.

Ms Steele said the design is called a sensory space.

“It’s not a playground but an outdoor place where children can go and we can run classes out there, but we can also use it as an area for children who are on the autism spectrum or with ADHD to reset and regulate their emotions and then come back and learn,” she said.

“It will be a space that promotes calm and mindfulness.”

Since its establishment, around 420 creative projects have been funded through the transformational program, helping build inclusive learning spaces and specially designed accessible playgrounds – ensuring all students are able to fully participate, develop and succeed in Victorian government schools.

The state government launched the ISF in 2015 to help schools cater for students whose additional needs require extra facilities. A total of $80 million has been invested to deliver these works throughout Victoria.

The government is investing nearly $1.6 billion in the Disability Inclusion Program to better respond to the needs of students with disability, ensuring they can participate and achieve their full potential at school and beyond.

This year, another $235 million is giving more students with disability the support they deserve, with a focus on students in specialist schools – as well as supporting parents and carers of children with disability with things like out-of-school-hours care and space for specialist medical appointments within special schools.

Mr McIntosh congratulated Stratford Primary for planning the upgrade.

“The new outdoor learning space at Stratford Primary will get students out of the classroom and into the open air to learn in a relaxed setting. The new space is right next to the kitchen garden which will be perfect for learning about holistic wellbeing,” he said.

Minister for Education, Ben Carroll said the new playground is part of a wider Victorian effort to make school more accessible.

“We’re ensuring every child and young person in Victoria can meet their potential and access great education,” he said.

“We’re proud to continue investing in the Inclusive Schools Fund – giving schools the infrastructure they need so more students can fully participate and succeed in their years of schooling and beyond.”