Like A Phoenix from the Ashes - Marryatville High School Site Visit

Published: Monday 4 July 2016

The June 2016 site visit was to Marryatville High School, a very successful school in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs.

 JPE Design Studio led by architect, Alf Fox, undertook the master planning leading to the new science centre, learning areas and learning centre and worked closely with the school to develop the design process and distinguish between “what we want” and “what we need”.

 Funding for the buildings was provided under the State Government’s and an establishment grant but further funds had to be sourced for additional ICT and furniture.  The tireless work of Hazel Bashford, the school-based project manager ensured agreement was reached on the design, funds were secured for additional work required and the centres are operating successfully.

The event was sponsored by Interface, the world’s largest designer and maker of carpet tiles used in offices, schools and libraries.  The company has a strong commitment to environmentally sustainable work practices and recycles all its products.

During the site visit, Mark Leahy, Principal, mentioned that the school has a tightly restricted zone due to the high number of students seeking enrolment.  Recent redevelopment work including the new learning centre, science centre and upgraded administration area will enable the enrolment to increase from 1200 to 1400 students.

This was not always the case.  In 1975 the site was occupied by Norwood Boys Technical School and its enrolments had dwindled to an unviable number – less than 150 students, and serious consideration was given to closing the school and selling the site.  About the same time the Australian Schools Commission was established under the Whitlam Government and the Karmel Report “ Schools in Australia” (1973) recommended Commonwealth funding  for schools.

Dr John Mayfield as Director of Education Facilities in the Education Department of South Australia recognised the need for a public school in a location dominated by non-government schools.  He identified the opportunity to give new life to the existing buildings and to create a special interest music school.  Glen McArthur was summoned back from leave in England and appointed as the inaugural Principal and the school has flourished since 1976.

*As the story goes, the phoenix is a mythical bird with fiery plumage that lives up to 100 years. Near the end of its life, it settles in to its nest of twigs which then burns ferociously, reducing bird and nest to ashes. And from those ashes, a fledgling phoenix rises – renewed and reborn.

Ann Gorey, SA Chapter.