Merrimac State School is a state primary school located on the Queensland Gold Coast between Surfers Paradise and the Hinterland. The school was established in 1917 as a one-teacher school and has grown over the years to a school with an enrolment of 840 students covering Prep to Year 6. Merrimac is a coeducational school.
The school is characterised by its original one teacher school building which is backdropped by a bush setting set amidst international level golf courses. All other buildings are relatively new and are of open plan design. The school has carried the slogan ‘the country school in the city’ as it has maintained a country image during recent urban development. A Prep program commenced in 2008. The learning environment is characterised by low set buildings with double classrooms and withdrawal rooms. A refurbished music block was completed in 2008 and caters for classroom music, choir and the instrumental program. In 2010 a state of the art Science and Performing Arts building was completed.
Merrimac is staffed by 34 class teachers, specialist teachers in PE, Music, LOTE, Learning Support, Guidance and Library. The administration team consists of a Principal, Deputy Principals, Business Services Manager and two Administration Officers. The school has eight teacher aides working in classrooms and in the learning support centre. A number of visiting specialists support the school including Intervention Teacher, Speech Therapist, Instrumental Teachers and Advisory Visiting Teachers (Intellectual Impairment, Physical Impairment). Three cleaners and a full time and a part time Schools Facility Officer maintain the school facilities. School management is characterised by a School Council, various School Committees, Curriculum Coordinators and a Student Council. Senior teachers play an important role in management issues.
The majority of staff have been at the school for many years providing a relatively stable staffing mix. Staff include graduates through to senior teachers. There is a high ratio of female to male teachers. The majority of staff is active in pursuing professional development.
Teaching practices vary from cooperative teaching through to single classes with some composite classes. Cooperative planning and teaching is encouraged. The school staff is very supportive and professional in their approach and committed to the students and community.
The student clientele is characterised by a mix of middle class and sole supporting families. The majority of the school population is stable with many families passing local schools to attend Merrimac. The school services a wide area including the communities of Merrimac, Merridown, Cararra, Worongary, Nerang, Clear Island Waters, Robina, Mermaid Waters and Mudgeeraba. There are an increasing number of students from southern states and New Zealand. Thirteen students currently identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Approximately 12% of the student population access a range of educational services and support such as:- Learning Support; Year 2 Net Support and Year 5-6 Intervention; Guidance Officer; Speech Language Pathologist; Educational Adjustment Programs and English as a Second Language.
An active Special Needs Committee caters for learning support students and students on Educational Adjustment Programs in the area of intellectual impairment, autistic spectrum disorder and speech and language impairment. A small group of students are supported by a visiting English as a Second Language Teacher.
At Merrimac State School we place a great deal of emphasis on student leadership. Whether it is at a class level, in the playground, at sporting activities or at a whole school level, we try to develop leadership skills and responsibility in all our students. Our student leader positions consist of four student leaders, eight sports captains, Years 6 and 7 Student Council members, Years 4 to 6 Class Captains, Band Leaders and our Years 5 and 6 Playground Pals.
Curriculum offerings from the Australian Curriculum include English, Mathematics, Science, History. The curriculum also covers Studies of Society and Environment, Art, Physical Education and Music. Japanese is taught to all students in Years 4, 5and 6. Year 3 also take part in introductory Japanese lessons. Swimming is offered to all year levels with interschool sport available to Years 5-6. The school is continuing to develop its curriculum framework with a focus on integrated outcomes planning.
The school has ample physical resources and a very well resourced school resource centre. Information Technology is a major systemic priority with a Local Area Network completed in 1999 and video conferencing facilities established in 2003. An ICT Centre was completed in 2005 and included state of the art video conferencing equipment. The internet is available in all classrooms. Approximately one third of the computer hardware within the school is leased through Education Queensland. This ensures the most up to date equipment possible for the students. In 2009 all classrooms were air conditioned and interactive whiteboards were installed in all major teaching areas.
Supportive school environment
The school’s Responsible Behaviour Plan focuses on the provision of a safe and supportive environment. It encourages students to strive to improve their behaviour through rewarding and acknowledging positive behaviour. Behaviour management procedures are common through all classrooms with a level system based on timeout and responsible thinking. Individual Behaviour Management Plans are implemented for children who need additional support.
Major priority areas include a focus on developmental learning, the development of student self esteem, the integration of learning technology, improved literacy skills, the provision of recreational programs and the enhancement of the physical environment.
Overall, parent support at Merrimac State School is very good. We believe strongly in parent involvement and parents are invited to develop a close link with the school. Good communication between home and school is essential. Communication is promoted through weekly newsletters, class newsletters each term, formal and informal parent/teacher interviews, parent/teacher nights, student folios and report cards, open days and special school activities. It is the practice at Merrimac to invite parents and other interested community members to help as voluntary aides within the classroom. This is outlined at the parent/teacher evening early in the school year. Parents are also invited to be actively involved in the different parent bodies: P&C Association, Tuckshop Committee, Bookshop and Uniform Shop Committee and the Outside Hours School Care Committee. Meetings of these committees are held on a regular basis.
The school has a total annual budget in excess of $400 000 comprising of funds from Education Queensland, parent contributions, P&C Bookshop, school tuckshop, the P&C Association and special purpose grants. The P&C Association is active in the school with a Bookshop operating throughout the year. Income generated through the tuckshop and bookshop provide significant capital input into the school.