Lara Lake Primary School first opened its doors in 1865 and has a long and proud history of quality education and care for all students. It celebrated its 150th birthday in 2015 by paying respect to all of the good work that had come before.
The Story of Our School
Our school vision is for each and every child to be literate, numerate, curious and caring and we actively promote friendliness, teamwork and skillfulness amongst all staff who influence our children. We are constantly striving to improve and place the needs of the students and the care for each other at the centre of what we do.
The original building was constructed in 1864 for 40 students and, upon opening, was attended by 51 pupils. Mrs. Watson was the school's first teacher. Our name is derived from the nearby lakes, however, an underground tank and pump was requested, "...as the lake is quite dry and there is no fit water for the children to drink within a mile of the school house". In 1869, a water tank was completed which sated the thirsty throng. In 1873, a new teacher's residence and school building with space for up to 120 pupils were added to the existing timber building. The school progressed strongly over the next 100 years. In its centenary year of 1965, Lara Lake Primary School had a student population of 237.
A significant event occurred in 1966 which helped define our school, its values and its emblem. At approximately 9.15am on Friday 21st October, Merthyr Vale colliery tip, situated on the mountainside overlooking the village of Aberfan in South Wales, United Kingdom, slipped and descended upon Pantglas Junior School like an avalanche; destroying both the school and 20 nearby houses which lay in its path. It rendered other houses in the vicinity unsafe for habitation. Half a million tonnes of coal waste, in a tidal wave 40 feet high, levelled the unsuspecting village. Being the last day before term break; school was in session. One hundred and forty four children and adults died – 116 of whom were schoolchildren at Pantglas, which represented half of its total student population, together with 5 of their teachers. This was a tragedy of monstrous proportion and it rocked the entire country. Upon hearing of this horrific tragedy, Lara Lake Primary School students provided assistance to the community of Aberfan. They raised money, wrote letters of empathy and encouragement, and generally offered much-needed moral support for the beleaguered Aberfan School and its survivors.
As a result of these efforts, the residents of Aberfan sent back letters of thanks, as well as pictures of the Welsh dragon – the symbol on the flag of Wales. Subsequently, Lara Lake Primary School adopted the emblem of Wales for the official school insignia; and it remains to this day.
In a tragic twist of irony, a large grass fire destroyed the main Lara Lake school building, along with much of the township, in 1969. Students began the new year with classes in the local hall and in the nearby Methodist Sunday School building. The community of Aberfan donated money to Lara Lake Primary School which was used to purchase an electric clock for each classroom. The two towns have forevermore been inextricably linked.
In June 1970, a new brick building, an administration area and 7 permanent classrooms for 190 pupils were all opened. Continuing its history of benevolence in tough times, in 1983 the pupils of Lara Lake sent money to a small western district school destroyed in the Ash Wednesday bushfires.
In 2004, the main buildings were upgraded and in 2009 a synthetic, all-weather oval and a gymnasium were added. In 2011, a new $3.1 million gymnasium was opened. This building included a Music Room, a Canteen and a full size Gymnasium.
In 2015, our proud school celebrated 150 years and currently holds our highest ever enrolment of 660 students.
Lara Lake Primary School serves the growing area of Lara, a township with both the personalities and the needs of a rural and a commuter community. Lara's population is around 15,520 and is expected to continue its steady growth. Lara lies in the Windermere Ward within the Local Government Area of the City of Greater Geelong, the State Government electorate of Lara, and the Federal Government seat of Corio. It sits approximately sixty kilometres south-west of Melbourne and fifteen kilometres north of Geelong.
The school is very proud of the strong teacher mentoring program which has been established to ensure our lovely school tone and robust culture is maintained during periods of change.
In 2016 there are 28 classrooms which are managed in seven grade units, each led by a dedicated Team Leader. Leading Teachers are appointed to facilitate Professional Learning Teams; with one Leading Teacher taking care of the Prep-2 area and another Leading Teacher facilitating the learning in the Grade 3-6 area.
Our facilities are modern and bright with new spending occurring which will see the whole school painted top-to-toe as well as major refurbishments to our toilets and 'old hall'. We have Interactive Whiteboards/Flat Screen TV's in every classroom and iPads for all students in Grades 3-6. Our buildings and features provide a safe and attractive learning environment, which will continue to be develop. We moved to straight grades in 2015 in order to accommodate for Professional Learning Teams.
From the curriculum aspect, we contracted the ICT specialist program and supplanted it with Specialist Science. Classroom programs are offered alongside a comprehensive specialist program consisting of: Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Physical Education and Science. Over the next few years, we will be introducing Indonesian as a second language starting from Preps in 2015 and moving up one year level for every grade until full implementation in 2020.
We have a proud reputation for quality curriculum programs, embedded in the Australian Standards. We also have a whole school focus on the You Can Do It! foundations of resilience, getting along, confidence, organisation and persistence.
The government withdrew support for statewide mandated reporting software, so the school invested in a new, exciting online program called Sentral and we are currently reporting inside this software.
We have an active School Council and a Parent Group (KidsLinks) who both support the school incredibly well. Parents are valued contributors to the school program and play an active role in making Lara Lake Primary School a vibrant, stimulating and positive place to be. Parents participate in a range of subcommittees and working parties, as well as helping out in many classrooms.
The Grounds Master Plan developed through a comprehensive consultation process has provided a strategic framework for environmental projects over the last few years.
The change in school size, expectations and staff demographics over the last four years has presented the school with a range of factors to consider during the strategic plan period. The School Staff are to be congratulated for responding swiftly and comprehensively to the changing needs of the school to improve student learning outcomes.
We have a great school, and, as our school motto says: We are Learning and Growing Together.
In 2001, the Royal Australian Mint held a nation-wide competition for their Centenary of Federation celebrations. The competition was open to school students to design a 20c or 50c coin. Lara Lake Primary School students Ryan and Mark jointly designed the winning Victorian entry.