Black Rock Primary School - 1970-1980


This was a period of fluctuating enrolments which declined from 380 in 1970 to 316 in 1974 and building up again to more than 400 by 1978.

In the years of smaller enrolments some classrooms became available to be used for television, drama, films, physical education and small group instructions.

When, because of the increasing enrolments these rooms reverted to classroom use once more, School Council, with strong parental backing funded the building of a multi-purpose hall (60' x 30') that became known as "FRED'S SHED". Fred Sommervelle, the Principal, had provided much of the inspiration.

With the contractor using some parental labor and the IGLU construction technique, expense was minimised and the school's share of the cost of $26,800 was able to be funded by a loan from the Commercial Bank. A Co-operative of parents and teachers secured the loan which was to be repaid by the School Council over 10 years.

This building which was extended in 1981 to include kitchen, storeroom and toilets, has proved to be a most useful asset to the school ever since, and is a tribute to the far-sighted initiative, dedication and hard work of those responsible.

It is another example of the community support for the school that has always been a feature of Black Rock. The District Inspector in 1971 commented "Parental co-operation is strong and the policy of keeping parents fully informed plays a significant part in gaining and maintaining the support of parent bodies".

After a century of having one large central authority the Education Department established regional centres and increased powers were delegated to them and to schools at the local level.

One consequence of this was that each school was expected to compile a School Policy of its own. Black Rock's first policy statement lists as a general aim, "Satisfying the emerging needs of the children in the categories of intellectual, physical, social, emotional, aesthetic, moral and spiritual".

Many education innovations appeared during these years and the spirit and teamwork of the staff provided a good foundation from which these innovations could be introduced.

Under the leadership and guidance of the principal "Multi-age classrooms" covering Grade Four to Six were established, and the "Breakthrough to Literacy" approach to reading was used in the Infant Grades in conjunction with the Ladybird readers and other approaches such as phonics.

The 1974 District Inspector's Report states "Throughout the school there is a willingness to attempt something new whether it be a method, use of facilities or in subject matter, and this spirit of experimentation receives the support of the school administration. There is a very close liaison between the specialist teachers and the classroom teachers. One cannot be but impressed with the attitude of staff members within the classroom and in their responsibilities as members of the teaching team. The friendly staffroom attitude extends to the classroom, and pupils respond in similar vein".

A most innovative Social Science course was developed in 1977 employing a conceptual approach covering terms such as "differentness, interdependence, power, tradition and values", and it was during this decade that the School Camp was established at Wychitella.

Administration and staffroom facilities which had been sub-standard for many years were upgraded in 1979/80 with two classrooms (Room 3 and 4) being converted to a principal's office, a second office, a storeroom and an enlarged staffroom.

The previous staffroom was converted to a sick bay, and internal toilets were built in the cloak room area.

A relocatable, five-module building containing two classrooms (Rooms 17 and 18), plus an office/storeroom was provided to replace the classrooms used for the upgrade.

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