Major crisis in Australian public school infrastructure


Major crisis in Australian public school infrastructure

Karen Holland

28 June 2017

According to recent research, Australian public schools will need to cater for hundreds of thousands more students over the next decade, while media reports indicate that many schools are already “bursting at the seams.”

In 2015, the Australian Centre for Educational Research (ACER) warned that new public schools would need to be built for an estimated 400,000 additional students during the next decade. In response to the findings, ACER’s chief executive at the time, Geoffrey Newcombe, warned: “If we don’t start to invest more in infrastructure in schools, then we’ll be teaching children sitting under trees.”

In early 2016, public policy think tank, the Grattan Institute, increased this already astounding projection to 650,000. Its research found that in order to accommodate the increased numbers, from 400 to 750 new schools would need to be built over the next 10 years, costing $A6–11 billion. Among these would be around 250–500 primary schools.

Unsustainable overcrowding is already well underway. Many schools are either full or well over capacity, particularly in the state capital cities, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Students in some schools are using the floor, corridors and balconies during classes, while at others, start times and lunch breaks are being staggered. On Sydney’s lower north shore, students at one public primary school attend classes in portable classrooms erected at the local high school.

In New South Wales (NSW), figures released by a state parliamentary inquiry in August 2016 reveal that more than one third of schools are full, while 8 percent are “stretched beyond their limits.” In Sydney’s inner west, half of its 30 schools are already…

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