The Living School moves to Lismore campus

Published 19 April 2022

Not-for-profit progressive institute the Living School has moved to Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus, after its own campus was inundated during the recent floods.

a smiling man standing in front of a doorway
"We have been welcomed with open arms. The gratitude we feel is hard to express." Living School teacher Ant Lewry (pictured) at E Block.

Principal John Stewart, an alumnus of the University, said it was a natural fit, and the transition was going ‘like a rocket’.

“It’s been an amazing flip, changing campuses so quickly. It’s fantastic to be in safe, secure grounds with access to wonderful facilities,” said Mr Stewart.

“The University has grown so much since I was a student here. It’s the heart of learning in the town and it feels quite natural that we are here, too.”

Mr Stewart said there would be opportunities for Education students of the University to interact with the Living School as they established themselves within the University grounds. “We’re a school that is intentionally different. There are no uniforms, students call teachers by their first name and we explore keystone themes like identity, nature, phenomena, living and service in the curriculum.

“There is great scope for Southern Cross students to experience that, as well as professional learning programs for colleagues already teaching at other schools,” he said.

The Living School follows the move by flood-affected Trinity Catholic College to the Southern Cross Lismore campus. They will shortly be joined by the Richmond River High School in temporary classrooms adjacent to the Lismore High School campus.

“Having so many educational entities now sited on the Southern Cross campus offers great opportunity to share resources and programs.  All it needs is the will – and if the floods have shown us anything, it is the amazing goodwill that lies at the heart of this area. That’s why I think we can find so many positives in this travesty,” said Mr Stewart.

Southern Cross Vice Chancellor Professor Tyrone Carlin agreed. “It has been a devastating start to the year for so many in our region but to see the education journey continue for all these students is fantastic. We’re also excited by the opportunity to integrate with University programs.

“At the outset of the floods, we made a real commitment to support young people who were impacted, to do our best to keep them learning, given the tumultuous proceeding period of the pandemic. The past two years have been very disruptive for school students, and we felt that as fellow educators, this was a powerful way in which the University could help quickly,” he said.

The Living School opened in 2020 in Lismore with 78 students and has grown to more than 240 students in years K-11. The Living Academy, an extension of the Living School’s current secondary program offering an additional Year 13 for senior high school students, opened in 2022. Mr Stewart said the Living Academy offers students the opportunity to complete school with less pressure and more meaningful life and scholarly experiences.

“We ask the big questions like ‘what is the purpose of schooling? What is school for?' We are trying to expand the understanding of what that really means,” he said. “Being based in a University there are clear synergies there, especially for those older years of school where kids are thinking about where to next.”

The Living School’s move to the Lismore campus coincides with the arrival of Professor Pasi Sahlberg to the Faculty of Education at Southern Cross University. A renowned scholar and Deputy Director of the Gonski Institute for Education (UNSW), Professor Sahlberg will present How post-pandemic recovery can help transform Australian schools tomorrow as part of the Dean’s Keynote Series for 2022, 'Disrupting and Transforming Education'. All are welcome to attend.

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