A second campus for the Kelmscott-based Sowilo Community High School will be built at Mundijong.
The development application for the new school at Lot 9 Watkins Rd was unanimously approved by the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale at its October 16 council meeting.
Sowilo is an independent school which centres on a holistic approach to education, and is aimed at teens who have become disengaged from learning for a number of reasons including bullying, mental health issues, learning and behavioural disorders and complex trauma.
It has operated out of its Kelmscott home along Railway Avenue since 2010.
Within the limited facilities at Kelmscott, staff have attempted to introduce agricultural initiatives like the ‘chicken club’, the Sowilo garden, and an aquaponics program to introduce concepts of sustainability and horticulture.
Speaking at the council meeting, Deputy Principal Gillian Porter said the rural setting of this new 2.18-hectare Watkins Rd campus will allow the school to expand on those programs and allow “connectedness to the natural environment”.
The school will accommodate up to 50 students, five staff members and two caretakers who will live on site.
Three new classrooms, a kitchen, three sheds, ablutions, chicken coop, Falai/Samoan hut and five water tanks are proposed to be built on the site.
The existing building will be turned into an administration office and caretaker’s house.
During the advertising period, a total of 14 submissions were received, three supporting the proposed development and ten objecting, with concerns raised relating to traffic congestion, environmental impacts, groundwater supply and use, and anti-social behaviour.
Harley Dykstra’s Clayton Plug spoke on behalf of the proposal at the council meeting and addressed some of the concerns raised by the local community.
He said the excellent student to teacher ratios would ensure there won’t be any problems of anti-social behaviour.
He also said the school was very keen on integrating themselves into the local community.
The development application was approved by council with a list of nineteen conditions to be met.