Sydney’s population is expected to grow by 1.3 million people by 2031, according to a recent report, which means that a shortage in education facilities will soon become a major issue.
In response, the state government’s Department of Education and Communities (DEC) has launched a consultation process which gives voice to parents, educators and members of the inner city community.
Liberal City of Sydney councillor Christine Forster believes the plan proposed by the NSW Liberal government is a “positive” step.
“The consultation process will give the growing number of families who choose to live in the City of Sydney a chance to have a say in their children’s future,” she said.
Cr Forster is optimistic that a new high school will makes use of state-of-the-art design to offer students “a broad curriculum, exceptional educational resources and the healthiest possible learning environment.”
As a former teacher, the Lord Mayor Clover Moore agrees that the shortage of public schools is an urgent matter.
Education is vital in our community, she said, throwing her support behind plans for better schools and resources.
Not all councillors, however, are won over by the DEC’s plans.Whilst Greens councillor Irene Doutney supports the consultation process, she remains sceptical of the state government’s ability to adequately fund future plans to establish a new school.
“The federal government has just cut school funding to the states which will make these promises much more difficult to realise,” she said.
“My concern with [the plan is that] it talks about medium- and long-term needs when the work needs to be started now if it’s to meet the projected demand by 2018 and the potential 2500 high school places needed by 2026.”
Labor councillor Linda Scott shares Cr Doutney’s reservations. Cr Scott welcomes the consultation process, but is adamant that a firm funding commitment needs to be in place to ensure infrastructure plans are pursued.
“The City’s Childcare Needs Analysis research, published in 2013, predicted an 88 per cent increase in children aged between five to 11 living in inner Sydney in 2031. The research is in and we know the answer – we need more schools in the inner city,” she said.