Students engaging in a tourism enterprise

Published on 05 May 2016

An innovative scheme to have students act as hosts and tour leaders for visitors is ready for launching at Inglewood Primary School.

The proposal, conceived by principal Geoff Weppner, would see visitors introduced to the site’s rich history and generous facilities, a boosted profile for the school and students learning a few business basics.  

“I’ve had this idea in my head for more than 12 months now,” Mr Weppner said.

“Loddon Shire organises ‘Discovery Tours’ for social and service groups interested in seeing places of historical interest and I’ve often thought it would be great if the bus would pull up at our school.

“I was also inspired by a little primary school in South Australia, at Mypolonga, just above Murray Bridge.

“They had some students present at a workshop I attended, who told us about their school shop and the regular patronage it received from tourist groups.

“I’m trying to introduce the students to the world of business by running a school shop and providing guided tours.

“This would also give them experience in speaking clearly and politely to adults and presenting the school in a positive manner.
 
“For a fee of $7, visitors would be escorted around by one or two students, accompanied by a teacher or myself.

“They would explain a little of the history of the school and show our programs and classrooms in action, before offering people a cup of tea or coffee and muffins made by the kids themselves.

“The children would have to keep a record of the ingredients and their costs and balance those against their profits. They would also be expected to keep track of sales from the school shop.”

Mr Weppner said he had already begun training students in how to conduct the tours and explain the site’s history.

“The next step will be to train students to serve at the shop, taking money and giving correct change,” he said.

The first school to operate on the site was The National School, a one-room weatherboard building opened in November 1861.

Four brick rooms were built in 1870 and, the following year, it became a Common School.  Major extensions were undertaken in 1908 in preparation for its future role as a Higher Elementary School.

“It was both a primary and secondary school until 1982, when it reverted to being primary only,” Mr Weppner said.

Extensive renovations were undertaken in 2009 as part of the Building an Education Revolution program, creating modern learning spaces within the historical buildings.

“The building has been extensively modernised, but we’ve kept the pitched ceilings and magnificent old trusses in our library/assembly area,” Mr Weppner said.

“We also have the original Kurting State School classroom, which was transported to this site in 1947 and is now used as a space for the Inglewood Playgroup.”

Today, the school has 25 students, with a principal, two full-time teaching staff, chaplain and part-time office manager, LOTE (Indonesian) teacher and art and kitchen/garden specialist.

The school runs a Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program to provide weekly learning experiences in the growing, harvesting, preparing and eating of fresh produce.

“The school started that program about 10 years ago and we’ve recently had even more raised beds built for herb and vegetable growing,” Mr Weppner said.

“Our fruit trees have yielded generous crops this year and we’ve just opened our brand-new kitchen.”

Inglewood Primary’s extra-curricular activities include swimming, the Sporting Schools program, gymnastics, school camps, excursions and family involvement days.

Year 5-6 students make fortnightly visits to the Inglewood Health hostel to interact with elderly residents, while Year 5-6 boys attend the local Men’s Shed to undertake woodworking projects.