One small independent school is steaming ahead with new campus buildings after being awarded more government funding than any other Canberra private school in the past four years.
Emmaus Christian School in Dickson has won almost $4 million in capital works grants from the federal government and has been awarded a grant every year since 2020.
Communities@Work Galilee School, which supports students who struggle in mainstream schools, had the second largest amount of capital grant funding, with three grants totalling $2.1 million.
Three Catholic systemic schools received grants since 2020: Holy Trinity Primary School, Holy Spirit Catholic Primary Schools and St Francis of Assisi Primary school.
Islamic School of Canberra, Blue Gum Community School, Burgmann Anglican School (Forde Campus), Covenant Christian School, Trinity Christian School and Taqwa School were also awarded capital grants.
The Taqwa School in Moncrieff had the smallest grant amount, of just under $400,000 in 2020 for an administration block, multipurpose hall and ramps.
Emmaus Christian School principal Erik Hofsink said the school began its building program in 2017 with the aim of progressively expanding to double stream classes.
Mr Hofsink credits the expertise of building committee chair Adam Moore and an unwavering commitment to the master plan for its success in gaining capital works grants.
"The reason why we've been successful in the last four years is because the Block Grant Authority that comes to assess your need, they actually more than once commented on the fact that we've stuck to that master plan from day one," Mr Hofsink said.
"In other words, it wasn't a plan that chopped and changed as we saw a need. We had a very long-term vision here.
"We knew that within 10 years the school needed to be in a different place and look completely differently."
The school has had the same architect from day one, Conrad Moore from Munns Sly Moore Architects. Besides rain delays during the La Nina years, the building program has largely remained on track.
Amid fierce debate on whether schools should opt for open plan classrooms or single-class spaces, Emmaus opted for separate classrooms with glass sliding doors that can open to create larger breakout spaces.
New classrooms, a cafe and hospitality area are set to be finished by the end of the year. Six demountables classrooms, originally donated by Australian Catholic University, will be removed for construction of an art facility to begin next year.
Mr Hofsink is leaving the school at the end of this year to take on the role of executive director of Associated Christian Schools.
His successor, Burgmann Anglican School's deputy principal wellbeing Melanie Spencer, will be responsible for exploring the possibility of adding years 11 and 12 to the school.
"We've just pressed pause on our program because we need to wait to see what [land] around us becomes available before we can plan further for year 11 and 12. But we have doubled since 2016 to now," Mr Hofsink said.
"We have increased to double storey and we've really reached the capacity without losing our little bit of green land that we share with the community, which is our oval."
Funding under the capital works program is distributed by the ACT Block Grant Authority.
Schools must show the community does not have the financial capacity to fund the whole project and that it will improve or upgrade school infrastructure, particularly for disadvantaged students or to keep up with new demographics and enrolment trends.
In 2023, a total of $4,534,186 was awarded to non-government schools in the ACT.