The NSW state government has announced a $5b plan to tackle the overcrowding crisis in NSW schools. This will be undertaken by a new agency to be known as Education Infrastructure NSW. The following is a summary of the new strategy.
2017 School infrastructure initiative (Education Infrastructure NSW)
The NSW government has announced a bold $5 billion plan over 10 years to address chronic overcrowding in NSW schools. The details are contained in a new Cabinet-in-Confidence School Assets Strategic Plan. There will be an average of $500 million a year spend
Maximum enrolments for school will increase from 640 to 1,000 for primary schools and from 1,900 to 2,000 for secondary schools.
There is also a proposal that there be a standard of 10 sq.m per student of play space. For a 1,000 student school this would equate to 10,000 sq.m of play space. To put that in context, a medium size house block is around 500 sq.m, So we would be talking about 20 house blocks (or 40 for a high school) toprovide for planned play spaces.
The government has given an undertaking that it will not increase class sizes.
37% of school are effectively completely utilized.
5% of schools (180) are over capacity.
There are suggestions that there be more joint venture between developers and councils of joint and shared school assets. An example might be a sports facility used by the community after hours and run by a not-for-profit organization.
They say that the old 60s model of a school plonked in the middle of a block of land is not going to work any more.
Growth is projected at 21% over the next 15 years. There is a projection of an additional 164,000 new students by 2031
There will be ‘modular’ classrooms instead of demountables.
The department has stated that where land value is at a premium, they will build high-rise schools rather than purchase additional land.
There may be a number of implications of the new strategy:
- The comments relating to land value of surrounding properties would likely apply to Chatswood Public School (CPS)
- It is difficult to understand how the Department could provide 10,000 sq.m of play space for CPS students without land acquisition
- It is difficult to understand how proposed developer partnerships might work. A developer would likely only become involved with a school where there was an opportunity for development (most likely residential). So this might see the redevelopment of an existing school to high rise residential and high rise educational facilities.
- School/Council partnerships have worked successfully at CHS, WPS and Willoughby PS/WGHS. No doubt, similar arrangements could be put in place if CPS had more play space.
- The CPS site is somewhat constrained by the existence of heritage listed school buildings meaning lesson-site development potential
- How do you redevelop and existing school site such as CPS whilst maintaining an appropriate learning environment for students. MPS was fortunate, being a relatively small school (less than 500 pupils) to be able to vacate existing classroom to demountables within the school grounds whilst the new 3 storey, 1,000 student school was constructed. The same opportunity does not exist at CPS (unless there is major land acquisition).