'Labour's new high school campaign for the future generations raises hope. Photo: NSW Labor

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BY VANESSA LIM

Labor’s pledge to build a new co-ed high school raises hope for locals in the Eastern Suburbs.

The Labor candidate for Coogee Majorie O’Neill said the community’s call out for a new co-ed high school is due to the increasing demand for public education and capacity limits. “There is a wave of children coming through at the moment and we need to plan for their future,” she said.

O’Neill stressed that education is one of the most important things on earth and should be prioritized over a “$2.2 billion stadium splurge that has a cost-benefit ratio of less than 0!”

She said that if elected, “NSW Labor would do a full audit of all government land and work with the community to ensure that we can find a suitable site”.

Schools Facebook account

Over 1,600 people follow the “CLOSE and CLOSEast – Community for Local Options for Secondary Education”.

Active since 2010, “CLOSE and CLOSEast” is a Facebook group that focuses on giving parents and children a voice on public high school education, from Inner Sydney to the Eastern Suburbs.

With the CLOSE success of a new Inner Sydney school to appear in 2020 after years of campaigning, CLOSEast has been striving since 2016 to accomplish the same feat in the Eastern Suburbs, where capacity for public schools is reaching its limit.

This large Facebook is mainly supported by the increasing young population in the Eastern Suburbs, Majorie O’Neill explained.

She said, “Waverley Public School has four streams of Kindergarten this year!”

This influx of primary public school students has parents concerned for the future of their children and their choices.

Parents north of the Eastern Suburbs have the public secondary school option of just Rose Bay Secondary College, Randwick Girls High School and Randwick Boys High School.

The government’s proposed solution to expand Randwick public schools and direct parents towards other secondary public schools such as Maroubra’s South Sydney High school will not meet the requirement.

Travelling times may increase

The demand for a public secondary school is also growing particularly north of the Eastern Suburbs. P&C President of South Sydney High School Justine Jennings commented on the difficulties students in the northern Eastern Suburbs faced in travelling down south.

“For parents living further north, such as in Bondi, it would be a significant distance to get to South Sydney High School, as it’s down south in Maroubra,” she said. “The only high school to the north of the Eastern Suburbs is Rose Bay High School, and they are actually over capacity as far as I know. They no longer accept any out-of-area enrolments.”

The lack of public high schools around the Eastern Suburbs was noticable to Justine Jennings as well. “I’m extremely pro-public education,” she said. “We don’t have a great deal of government high schools, since a lot of the government high schools were actually closed by the Bob Carr government about 20 odd years ago.”

No doubt the ALP is regretting those closures now.