Hale School has long held a reputation for excellence, but the Junior School redevelopment has set a new standard, being recognised as one of the best primary schools in the nation.
After opening in late 2018, the new Hale Junior School has taken out three major awards: a 2018 Learning Environments WA Chapter Award; the 2019 WA Architect Award for Education; and the People’s Choice Award in the 2019 Shaw Contract Design Awards (global).
The new design and expansion have also allowed for the addition of Pre-Primary. The youngest boys have their own secure playground incorporating nature play elements, bike paths and other free-play equipment.
The new single-storey buildings in the Junior School radiate around a central grassed and play area, surrounded by natural bushland, which gives the Junior School a village feel — separate but connected to the rest of the school. Highlights of the design include separate buildings for junior, middle and upper primary; classrooms with flexible walls and furniture; and a large common area in each building. The sustainable design promotes cross-air ventilation, natural lighting, and connection to the outdoors. The design was based on the staff’s own vision and experience on best-practice teaching and learning specifically for boys, and where they believe education will go in the future.
The Junior School consists of double-stream classes from Pre-Primary to Year 3 and triple stream from Years 4–6. Hale Junior School is a relatively small community of 400 boys supported by over 30 staff, including specialists in learning support, mathematics, music, drama, visual arts, learning hub, health and physical education, Chinese (Mandarin), religious and values education, and personal and social development.
Junior School teachers plan engaging learning experiences and work collaboratively to ensure that all boys regardless of their starting points reach their potential. Learning support is available for boys experiencing learning difficulties, and extension opportunities are provided for boys identified as gifted and talented.
Boys are actively involved in a range of curricular and co-curricular opportunities, focusing on elements of the academic, physical, spiritual, emotional and social domains. Understanding boys’ need for movement, Hale has introduced a Sing to Learn programme, which involves short, targeted sessions of singing and movement designed to ready boys’ minds and bodies for learning as well as brain breaks, where they have short bursts of physical activity during the school day. In addition, some lessons are held outdoors.
Teaching and learning programmes include a balance between explicit teaching and inquiry learning methods. The skills and knowledge required to be future-ready learners — including collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking — are a focus in the Junior School. Developmentally-appropriate learning experiences aim to equip boys with the skills, values and knowledge to be independent and successful lifelong learners.