Waalre is going to invest heavily in primary education. Two new buildings will be constructed for two existing schools and one completely new school in the coming years. The total cost of the plans is around 15 million euros.
The new buildings are really necessary, thinks Michel Herps, director of primary school De Meent. He sounded the alarm five years ago and was – partly – at the cradle of the Integral Housing Plan (IHP) Education within the Waalre municipality. “I think it was 2018/2019 that we submitted a renovation request. In particular, the indoor climate in our school was and is a source of concern for us. We therefore wanted to modernise the entire building immediately. The municipality had different plans, however. They wanted to build more sustainably and think about the future of primary education in Waalre.”
Explosively growing population
For the municipality, moreover, it was the reason for taking a close look at all schools. After all, Waalre’s population is growing explosively, partly due to the arrival of ASML employees. More spacious facilities for education are therefore badly needed in the short term. A good example is De Wilderen primary school in Waalre-Dorp. A few years ago, a completely new building was constructed, but in fact the premises are already too small.
Gerry de Bruyn is currently regional director within SKOzoK, a foundation for education and childcare. This includes the primary schools De Wilderen, De Drijfveer and Christoffelschool in Waalre. Previously, she was cluster director of De Wilderen and she recognises the problems: “The school was built for 500 pupils, but now there are already 550. As a result, we have already had to add two temporaryy classrooms. De Wilderen would benefit from a rapid expansion of their facilities, so that children can start spreading out more.”
Free school choice
Apart from new buildings, education-wise there will also be something to choose from for Waalre. Education councillor Kees Vortman: “We are not just going to build two new schools, but we have also looked at distribution within the municipality. We think every parent should have freedom of choice close to home. We will first build for De Drijfveer in Waalre-Dorp. At a new location. Then it will be the turn of De Meent in Aalst-Waalre. Those children can then temporarily move into De Drijfveer’s old building.”
As mentioned, the total cost of the integral housing plan in Waalre is estimated at around 15 million euros. What if this amount is not enough? “If it’s not enough – after all, you don’t know what construction costs will be in the coming period – then we have to make sure we get more money in. Because we cannot make it not to invest in good education for our children,” education councillor Vortman said
New educational model
And then there is the arrival of the new primary school De Gelukstuin. At the moment, the initiators of this new form of education are still waiting for final approval, but they are already working together with RBOB De Kempen. Ron Schoonhein is group director of this umbrella organisation of 15 public schools in the region. He explains that De Gelukstuin will soon be in the same building as De Drijfveer.
With its own educational concept, though. Schoonhein says: “There is a group of parents who miss something in the educational landscape in the Waalre region and want a different form of education. So they are going to start a new school. Within the new concept, we work much more from themes. The classical model of groups 1 to 8 is being abandoned and there is a lot of focus on ‘what does this child need to learn at this moment?’ And then not only inside the building, but also outside. Connected to society and reality.”
Joint new building
Schoonheim expects De Gelukstuin to be able to start in the middle of next year. This should then be in temporary accommodation. The joint new building of De Drijfveer and De Gelukstuin is not expected to be ready until 2027.