Hunter Sports High opens first building in redevelopment

Under construction: Minister for Education Rob Stokes and Hunter Sports High principal Rachel Byrne at the school, where builders Hansen Yuncken are working on 80 per cent of the site. Picture: Simone De Peak
Under construction: Minister for Education Rob Stokes and Hunter Sports High principal Rachel Byrne at the school, where builders Hansen Yuncken are working on 80 per cent of the site. Picture: Simone De Peak

THE redevelopment of Hunter Sports High has been praised as a “case study in complexity” by Minister for Education Rob Stokes, who has toured what will soon become one of the state’s most modern schools.

Mr Stokes visited the Gateshead school on Tuesday to review progress on the $45.1 million project, which is one of the biggest school upgrades underway across the state. 

EJE Architecture's vision for the project

EJE Architecture's vision for the project

It is being staged to allow students to remain on site during construction.

“This is definitely money well spent,” Mr Stokes said.

“What sets this apart is the size, scale and complexity of the build because everything is happening on site.

“There’s not really a lot of room to move around it. In some areas we’re doing a block at a time and you can fence off that part of the school, but here the school is in the middle of a construction site.

Timelapse of construction of the sports and exercise complex

Timelapse of construction of the sports and exercise complex

“Trying to keep a school operating in situ at the same time as building around it and all of the work place health and safety issues that need to be managed, it’s a case study in complexity and… an incredible logistical challenge.”

Mr Stokes said the school was originally built in the 1950s for baby boomers and needed to be updated to accommodate their children and grandchildren.

“For the first time schools being built look quite different because for the first time in 100 years the method of teaching is dramatically changing.”

Timelapse clearing space for library plus art and music facilities

Timelapse clearing space for library plus art and music facilities

Principal Rachel Byrne said students have moved into the new hall, which has been temporarily divided into 11 classrooms and three support unit spaces as builders prepare for the remaining necessary demolition.

“It’s been disruptive but everyone has gone with the flow – we’ve had our best results this year.”

Ms Byrne said she met last week with the mother and husband of NSW Public Works senior project manager Jennifer Bates, who led the redevelopment until she died in a crash last year.

They discussed where to erect a memorial to Mrs Bates.

“They’re thinking about naming a certain area, particularly to do with the environment –  Jen was very passionate about the environment – so an outdoor space is something that will probably be considered.”

Ms Byrne said a classroom and administration building with specialist spaces is expected to be completed by next July, and a second building with a library by 2019.