New Charles Weston School opens in Coombs in the Molonglo Valley, Canberra
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New Charles Weston School opens in Coombs in the Molonglo Valley, Canberra

It was probably fitting that Chief Minister Andrew Barr planted a tree to mark the official opening of the Charles Weston School, given that the school is named after one of Canberra's eminent horticultural pioneers.

While one may wonder what the man who was responsible for the planting of nearly 1.2 million trees across a young Canberra might think of the artificial turf in the playground, his grandson, John Langford, believes his grandfather would be extremely pleased that a school had been named after him.

Professor John Langford chats with students after the ceremony.

Professor John Langford chats with students after the ceremony.

As the youngest child of Weston's youngest daughter, Mr Langford, 71, said his grandfather valued education highly. "He was born in England in 1866 into a relatively lowly family," Mr Langford said.

"But he was an ambitious man and he had to educate himself, he read widely and took horticulture courses and when he migrated to Australia in 1895 he continued with his education, taking up his role as officer in charge of afforestation here in Canberra in 1913."

The new school is Canberra's 87th public school.

The new school is Canberra's 87th public school.

Photo: Graham Tidy
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Mr Langford said his grandfather's advice to the young students would be to take up all the opportunities that are offered, to work hard, to keep learning.

"Learning is not just about school, it's a life-long journey."

And for many of the students their journey has begun at the Coombs school, Canberra's 87th public school, under the watchful eye of principal Kate McMahon.

Ms McMahon said it had been a frantic six months since the school took its first students at the start of the 2016 school year. Starting with 140 students, the enrolment is currently 170. The capacity of the school is 720.

Descendants of Charles Weston attended the official opening of the Charles Weston School in Coombs including his grandson, Professor John Langford.

Descendants of Charles Weston attended the official opening of the Charles Weston School in Coombs including his grandson, Professor John Langford.

Photo: Graham Tidy

"It's been an exciting time and non-stop but it's a privilege to be working in a wonderful community and building a wonderful new school from scratch," Ms McMahon said.

She said a priority was to develop relationships with students, families and the local community.

"It's a great learning space, a very contemporary learning space, so we're able to be very flexible in how we deliver our curriculum using the different buildings that we have," she said.

She said the local community had full access to the facilities with several groups already taking advantage of the hall and different rooms.

Education Minister Shane Rattenbury said there were now 2500 residents living in the Molonglo Valley, in Coombs and Wright. Development has began in another suburb, Denman Prospect. At capacity the Molonglo Valley area is planned to accommodate about 55,000 residents.

Mr Rattenbury said there was a site already marked for another school in Denman Prospect.








Karen Hardy

Karen Hardy is a reporter at The Canberra Times.

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