Work begins on Northern schools project

Work begins on Northern schools project

11 Jun 2009

La Trobe University Vice Chancellor, Professor Paul Johnson, today welcomed the official launch of a project that is set to transform educational outcomes in maths, science and other subjects for school children in the Heidelberg area. 

northern-schools-01‘The Heidelberg Schools Regeneration Project, a partnership project between La Trobe University, the Victorian State Government and the local community will provide more opportunities to extend our commitment to increasing access to the University for students and staff of our local primary and secondary schools.  The University will also extend outreach activities to other schools in the region.

‘I particularly welcome the initiative of the State Government to incorporate one of three Specialist Science and Maths centres in the new Prep-Year 12 school to be established on this site,’ said Professor Johnson in reference to the La Trobe Senior College site where a ‘turning of the sod’ ceremony took place this morning with the Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Bronwyn Pike.

northern-schools-02‘Declining enrolments in science are an urgent national issue, and this project highlights that finding the solution is a joint one between the government and education sectors. La Trobe University is investing a great deal in the development of much more seamless pathways between TAFE and school sectors and I have recently signed a MOU and a range of articulation agreements with NMIT in support of this strategy in north Melbourne.

‘La Trobe University is also working with the State and local governments to establish a ‘northern Melbourne Science Precinct’ to further develop the knowledge economy in the region’ he said.

Professor Johnson added that while northern Melbourne is the focus of the project, he hoped that the University and State Government will extend the model to other communities in which we have La Trobe campuses: Bendigo; Wodonga; Mildura and Shepparton.

Along with education, humanities and social sciences streams, science research and teaching are important strengths at La Trobe and two key initiatives have been recently announced to support these strengths:

Firstly, The Biosciences Research Centre, a $230 million joint venture between the Victorian Government’s Department of Primary Industry and the University will be Victoria’s home for advanced agricultural biosciences.  

Secondly,the University was also recently successful in securing substantial funding from the Federal Government’s Education Investment Fund to establish the $97.9 million La Trobe Institute of Molecular Sciences – LIMS.

‘Central to the LIMS mission is a program to stimulate interest in science amongst secondary students through an expanded Secondary School Science Outreach Program. We will take a leadership role in promoting science to students at all levels of education and our expanded Secondary School Science Outreach Program will involve over 2,500 students across the northern Melbourne suburbs by providing learning experiences, supporting secondary science teachers with resources, and promoting an awareness of scientific research.  The Specialist Science and Maths centre will be a key element of this,’ said Professor Johnson.

The commitment to investment in sciences at La Trobe in the last two years now totals approximately $350 million. These new initiatives will bring over 500 new research positions onto the University’s Bundoora campus.  This is an important step in addressing the critical shortage of bioscientists in Australia with opportunities to extend the science outreach program.

‘I have  an ambition for La Trobe University, that we are now in the first steps of achieving:  

That we will provide eligible candidates with substantially improved access to a local high quality higher education by opening up opportunities and removing barriers, particularly for those that are disadvantaged currently.

That we will provide a higher education that is recognised among the best in the world.

That we  will support our local secondary school students to realise their best possible educational future.

The Heidelberg Schools Regeneration Project will be a key driver of this shared vision,’ said Professor Johnson.

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