On 12 May 2016, the Victorian Department of Education and Training held its annual briefing for industry partners involved in the design and construction of schools.
The forum showcased the innovative design of Victoria’s latest public private partnership schools and “vertical schools” being designed for sites in South Melbourne, Prahran and Richmond. These designs incorporate collocated community facilities such as early learning centres, maternal and child health centres, indoor and outdoor sporting facilities and meeting spaces. Designs also contemplate the schools using community facilities.
The Department presented its strategies to meet the challenges arising from the unprecedented levels of budget funding needed to accommodate 90,000 extra enrolments over the next five years and to address a backlog in demand for new schools, extensions and upgrades to existing schools and maintenance. There will be new projects across a range of school building needs:
– $287 million to acquire land to build or complete 23 new schools
– $92 million for 10 cutting-edge Tech Schools at TAFEs and universities across Victoria
– $68.5 million to upgrade 20 specialist schools
– $63.6 million for additional relocatable classrooms
– $50 million for the new Shared Facilities Fund to assist projects where facilities can be shared with community groups
– $28 million to continue removing asbestos from school buildings
– $16 million for the new School Pride and Sports Fund to build sporting facilities
– $12 million to plan upgrades at 35 existing schools.
The Deputy Premier and Minister for Education, the Hon James Merlino told the forum about expectations for consultation with the school and local community so that the facilities best meet everyone’s needs because new school facilities will be used by sporting clubs and other community groups as well as schools.
“Education is the cornerstone to ensuring every Victorian child can meet their potential. Our kids can’t get a first-rate education in second-rate classrooms. That’s why the Budget invests over $924 million to build new schools and upgrade classrooms – the largest ever single investment by a Victorian government in school infrastructure.“ Mr Merlino said.
What are the big changes?
The Victorian School Building Authority – incorporating the Department’s Infrastructure and Sustainability Division and some 40 additional staff – will oversee all of the works projects. The Authority’s main objectives are design excellence, engagement with communities, and meeting project delivery timelines. The need for diligent project reporting was a recurring theme.
On a quarterly basis, the Department will seek expressions of interest from contractors interested in tendering for school projects. All contractors need to be prequalified on the State’s Construction Supplier Register.
Contractors will no longer lodge tenders in hard copy at the architect’s office but tendering for these projects will be through an electronic tendering system.
The Department is introducing Natspec, an independently maintained and nationally consistent building specification. All consultants will be required to subscribe to Natspec which has an annual fee of $740 per practice.
The Department has updated its Building Quality Standards Handbook. This publication, well-known to architects and builders of school building projects, provides instructions about how to design new schools and upgrade existing buildings. The updated handbook has a new section about “modern school design to reflect 21st century thinking about pedagogy and space. This section includes the Guiding Design Principles for Inclusive Schools and requirements for use of the Universal Design Principles as best practice in the design and building of environments that can be used by and are welcoming to everybody.”
In accordance with Victorian government policy, the Department will increase from 5% to 10% the tender evaluation criteria weighting for VIPP (the Victorian Industry Participation Policy). This policy seeks to maximise opportunities for Australian, New Zealand and Victorian suppliers (Local Suppliers) to compete for government business on the basis of best value for money over the life of the goods or services. The VIPP is implemented by Victorian Government departments and agencies to help drive local industry development.
On the few school projects that individually exceed $20 million, the Department will liaise with the consultants involved to ensure compliance with the Skills Guarantee Policy that requires 10% of labour hours on these projects to involve apprentices, trainees and cadet engineers.
For more information about this policy, please visit: