Wyndham City is calling on the State Government to urgently address a shortage of schools, with new data showing the municipality has almost twice the number of enrolments per government school than the greater Melbourne average.
The new data, contained in a report on Government school needs in Wyndham, is based on population forecasts, enrolment data and the State Government’s own Department of Education and Training’s School Provision benchmarks.
The findings of the report demonstrate there will be a significant shortage of school sites available to meet future demand.
Wyndham Mayor Cr Peter Maynard said: “Wyndham has seen a number of new schools open in recent years, with more to come, and we are very grateful for the State Government’s investment.”
“But more investment is needed now, as well as a longer-term plan. Our classrooms are already overcrowded and bursting at the seams.”
“We have the highest number of students per government school in the whole of Victoria. There are nearly one thousand students on average (983) per government school in Wyndham, compared to a Greater Melbourne average of about half that (554 students per government school).”
“We need the government to urgently develop a comprehensive School Provision Plan for Wyndham – a detailed forward plan for providing schools in Wyndham to avoid foreseeable future shortages and ensure our children’s education won’t suffer. This is not a new planning mechanism but one that that has been successfully used in growth areas.”
“We’re calling on the State Government to allocate additional school sites in plans for new developments across Wyndham. It also needs to purchase additional land for more schools or construct new, larger multiple-storey schools to cater for increased enrolments, or both.”
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The 20/21 State Government Budget provided funding for the construction and opening of five new Government schools in Wyndham by 2024, land acquisition for an additional five Government schools, and upgrades to existing Government schools.
The five proposed schools to be constructed and opened are Holyoake Parade Primary School in Manor Lakes – to open by 2023; Riverdale East Primary School in Tarneit – to open by 2023; Tarneit Missen House in Tarneit – to open by 2023; Lollypop Creek Primary in Werribee – to open by 2023; and Truganina North Secondary College in Truganina – to open by 2024.
Land acquisition for five additional Government schools have been announced for Mambourin (one Government Primary), Tarneit (two new school sites – one Government Primary and one Government Secondary) and Point Cook (funding two new school sites in the southern area of Point Cook).
“While those announcements were welcome, they are not enough to keep pace with our population,” Cr Maynard said. “With more than 100 babies born each week in Wyndham, we need 75 new classrooms each year to keep up with this growing demand.”
“The 2018 Victorian Government’s commitment to build 100 new schools by 2026 will be a great educational achievement for Victoria. In the lead-up to the State Election, Wyndham City is asking all political parties to set a new target for the number of new schools to be built state-wide by 2031 in order to match a projected growth in demand.”
“By 2031 the number of schools required in Wyndham will exceed the number of school sites in Precinct Structure Plans by six – which includes three primary, 2 secondary and one specialist school. And by 2041 there will be a shortfall of 16 school sites – including 14 primary, one secondary and one specialist school.”
“The majority of school sites were approved almost a decade ago and were based on significantly lower residential development density assumptions than what is currently being delivered.”
“This Wyndham City report has found that one hectare of residential land now generates 45 percent more school-aged enrolments per hectare than a decade ago.”
The report also found Wyndham’s enrolment rates were also high for Catholic schools (3rd in Victoria) and other independent schools located in Wyndham (4th in Victoria).
Without a sufficient supply of non-government schools, the demand for Government schools is likely to grow beyond typical long-term carrying capacities, require a lot longer reliance on portable school room facilities, and negatively impact on the amount of outdoor playing dispersal area local students have access to.