Brightwater State School celebrates 10 years

When it established in January 2012, Brightwater State School set about catering for the strong growth in the Kawana, Brightwater and Mountain Creek communities. Opening with a total enrolment of just 240 students, it is now a thriving learning community of more than 900 students from Prep to Year 6.

It started with a Principal and a vision

Current Principal Robyn Taplin was the founding principal back in 2012. She worked collaboratively with the school community to create a vision for the school. From uniform colours and the school’s name to specialist learning programs and future-proofed facilities, the team worked tirelessly to bring this vision to life.

Understanding the seriousness of raising the community’s future citizens, the team created three moral pillars now underpin daily life at Brightwater State School. They are: ‘Everybody Belongs’,  ‘Just be Kind’ and ‘Pay it Forward’.

While student enrolments grow and the modern facilities evolve, what hasn’t changed is the ongoing focus on teaching children to be kind and caring humans.

“As a school of high standards we strive to ensure our students are taught to use manners, care and compassion on a daily basis,” Mrs Taplin says.

One of the school’s values, known as ‘Big Rocks’, is: ‘Happy students, happy staff’.

“Staff believe that if we create a school environment children love and feel nurtured in, they will want to be here every day,” she says.

“With a vibrant and supportive environment, students love their teachers and their learning.

“Students bouncing out of their cars in the morning because they are excited about the day ahead is what we aim to see.”

“I am incredibly proud of the strong reputation the school has.” — Principal Taplin

Learning in the 21st century

Brightwater State School delivers high quality 21st century learning experiences to all students at the school. It delivers personalised learning, catering to student-preferred learning styles. Teachers then select appropriate teaching strategies based on pre-tests, student data and student learning goals.

“With this model, students have the opportunity to demonstrate and receive feedback on their learning,” Mrs Taplin says. “This approach also enables teachers to embed higher order thinking skills and cooperative learning strategies into lessons.”

There are specialised programs supporting students with learning difficulties and extending students with gifts and talents. Experienced teachers implement the lessons, ensuring students are challenged and achieving their potential.

The school is a digitally rich environment with Information Communication Technologies (ICT) used purposefully throughout the learning process to achieve curriculum intent.

“Our classrooms and facilities offer contemporary learning environments enriched by the latest in technology. This enhances learning and provides a portal to the world beyond the four walls of a classroom,” Mrs Taplin says.

All learning spaces throughout the school have wireless connectivity. Interactive whiteboards, laptop pods, desktop computers, iTouch devices, digital cameras, Lego robotics and digital microscopes also feature.

Brightwater State School also utilises a number of online learning platforms to support curriculum delivery and its personalised learning approach.

With these foundations in place, the school has experienced lots of success over the past 10 years. Student results for academics, sports and the arts are strong. Staff are recognised for excellence in teaching and leading, and the reputation of the school is among the best the Sunshine Coast has to offer.

“I am incredibly proud of the strong reputation the school has across the Sunshine Coast,” Mrs Taplin says.

Staff and students at the school

She says the staff are the best resource the school has to offer. They have high expectations of themselves and each other to ensure every student has learning success.

“They are passionate educators who emulate our motto of a ‘bright beginning to lifelong learning’.”

Every child is viewed as an individual and is driven to ensure they graduate from Brightwater with skills, knowledge and an attitude that will set them up for success at high school and beyond.

“Each year I attend the student awards night at Mountain Creek State High School and take great delight in witnessing continued success for past Brightwater students. When we see past students going on to have success with their lives, we take comfort in knowing we played a part in that,” Mrs Taplin says.

Brightwater State School students running

Educating the whole child

A well-rounded primary education goes far beyond a strong curriculum. Therefore, educating the ‘whole child’ is at the forefront of Brightwater State School’s pedagogy.

Brightwater has many well-established extra-curricular programs. Sports coaching, extension programs in the arts (dance, visual arts), digital technology and robotics keep contemporary learners engaged and motivated.

There is now a drum corps at the school thanks to its well-developed music program. The drum corps is now well sought after to lead local Anzac Day marches.

“Students are very keen to be a part of the drum corps, who practise their routines throughout the school each week,” Mrs Taplin says. “They also love the many lunchtime clubs available to them, such as the Garden Warriors, dance club and robotic club.”

Initiatives such as the ‘Brightwater Buddies’ also add to the ‘whole child’ philosophy. Students participate in a rigorous training program prior to becoming an official buddy. Students lead and coach their peers in actions developing social consciousness. It also creates a supportive and caring school environment for everyone.

Brightwater Buddies is a daily part of the playground. Students don fluorescent vests and clipboards and put their skills into action by connecting students with new friends. They also assist with problem solving and organising games.

“This peer mentoring initiative has been highly successful in assisting children to successfully navigate the playground and one of the programs I am most proud of,” Mrs Taplin says.

Brightwater State School with bunch of balloons

Independence recognition

With such proven success, Brightwater State School is a recognised Independent Public School. It is one of only 250 schools in Queensland to have the status.

Education Queensland defines an Independent Public School as ‘a public school that has demonstrated its capacity to use its increased flexibilities and responsibilities to make local decisions across a range of school operations to enhance education outcomes for students’.

This autonomy means Brightwater State School has more control over what happens at the school. The school community has decision making in its hands.

“Our school community is passionate about ensuring every child experiences success with their learning. We commit to providing high quality services in all that we do,” Mrs Taplin says.

“As an Independent Public School our school community plays an active role in establishing and setting our strategic agenda. This ensures our students have access to the very best education possible.

She says all members of the school community — students, staff and parents — play an active role in the education of Brightwater’s students. They contribute to creating a school environment that is happy, safe and conducive to learning.

What’s next for Brightwater State School?

Mrs Taplin believes that the future is bright for the children and families who enrol at this flourishing school.

“Now that coronavirus restrictions have eased, parents are back in the school and loving it!” Mrs Taplin says.

“Favourite programs such as Super Dads, Reading Dogs and Celebration Assembly are back in full swing and the 2022 P&C Association has begun planning discussions for a playground extension project. I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years have in store!”

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Brightwater State School

Written by Angela Sutherland

After spending many years hustling stories on busy editorial desks around the world, Angela is now mum of two little ones and owner/editor at Kids on the Coast / Kids in the City. She is an atrocious cook and loves cutting shapes to 90s dance music.

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