Modelled on city-based colleges in Sydney, the six-storey office block will be converted into classrooms, science labs and food tech labs in time for Term 2 next year.
The Murdoch College community was informed of the move last week, with the Year 7-12 school to join the Anglican Schools Commission (ASC) and change its name to Perth Anglican Grammar School.
The school’s principal, Rensche Diggeden, said while a number of her students were upset, some of them quite shocked, generally the student body were ‘on board’.
“We’re just going to have to manage that as best we can and be respectful of the fact that this move will not suit every family,” she told Australian Teacher Magazine.
“We hope that it does, but it is our intention that we take the best of what is at the heart of Murdoch College, and there’s so much here, and transplant that as the seed for a new beginning at our inner city campus.”
Founded 14 years ago by Murdoch University and the Comprehensive Education Centre the co-educational, non-denominational school has built a reputation for its high academic achievement and strong school community, but while the decision to move was a difficult one, according to Diggeden, it was simply unavoidable.
“They built this beautiful campus that can take 850 students and we have less than 300 – it’s just unsustainable,” she said.
“If you model it in any way, shape or form, and if we want to continue to provide the best possible academic programs for our students, then we have to be able to resource that properly and when we’re paying for a campus that can take almost three times our student numbers, that’s got to come from somewhere.
“That’s the basis for the decision really.”
While sad to be leaving the leafy Murdoch University campus, Diggeden is excited by the school’s central, easily accessible location and close proximity to numerous public facilities.
“Being located in the Perth CBD just gives us incredible access to the top class public facilities that are available – the $50 million City of Perth Library, the WA Museum, the art gallery, the State Theatre, the cultural precinct – all of those are literally right on our doorstep, whereas if you were in the suburbs you have to hire a bus, make an excursion of it – these are all the facilities within walking distance.
“The opportunities to enhance our program are just amazing, we’ve been talking to businesses, looking at some really professional work placements for our students, the rich, relevant, authentic programs that we can offer are just unequalled by this location.
“We also see it as being the synergy and having the city just as an extension of the classroom, so it is our intention that our students go into the city and that we bring the city into the school as well.”
ASC chief executive Rev. Peter Laurence said the Commission had been planning for several years to establish a school in the CBD to cater for the rapidly growing inner-city population, which is predicted to double from about 20,000 now to 40,000 by 2031.
"We see this as a first step and further down the track, in a few years time, we're hopeful of opening a primary school," he told The West Australian newspaper.