By Bonny Burrows
The State Education Minister has announced Kerry Coffey as the inaugural principal of the under construction Gum Scrub Creek Primary School.
The Officer school, located on Sandy Road, will form part of an education hub featuring an early years learning centre, after school hours care centre and maternal health services.
Ms Coffey joined the Education Minister, James Merlino, during a site visit on 2 August, where she spoke about her vision for the precinct’s future.
Ms Coffey, who has an extensive 28-year career in education in both teaching and principal positions in south-east Melbourne, said she was excited about her new role.
“I had lots of principal experience and was looking for a new challenge,” Ms Coffey said.
“This opportunity came up, and … it just really matched with my vision for education and so I applied and luckily I was successful.”
The new school, which will open for term one 2018, is already attracting strong interest.
According to Ms Coffey, she had received 100 enrolments in the first week alone.
Because of the heavy demand, restrictions have been put in place on who can enrol.
“They actually have to show that they’ve built or bought in the area, so sales documents or utility bills, because there’s so much demand,” Ms Coffee said.
Depending on enrolment numbers, the school is expected to commence in term one 2018 with between 10 and 15 classrooms and just as many teachers.
Along with Ms Coffey, there will also be a business manager, two assistant principals and early years centre staff working under the one room.
Mr Merlino said Ms Coffee would do a wonderful job as the inaugural principal.
Cardinia Shire Deputy Mayor Jodie Owen said it was important good education began early, and despite community fears, this was something the hub setting would ensure.
She pointed to the recent NAPLAN results as an example of an integrated education centre’s importance.
“I’ve personally said – and taken some heat from the community, but it’s true – if you don’t get it right at kinder, you’re setting your child up for failure later on,” Cr Owen said.
“This is going to be an amazing centre, to have it all in one hub is the way of the future, it’s the way Cardinia will be going and it will be proven in time it’s absolutely the right model. “
The site’s childcare centre will be operated by Early Years Management Services, as announced during the Cardinia Shire kinders tender process.