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Editions

Families plead for a primary school

29 Sep 2016

Families plead for a primary school Image

By Sean Car

Local parents have been assured that they will soon be provided with more clarity regarding the prospect of a school in Docklands.

 

Funding and quality assurance director at the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Peter Graham, provided a presentation to a packed Docklands Community Forum on Wednesday, August 31.

Mr Graham informed parents that, having recently completed the second and final stage of its Docklands school provision review, the State Government would soon be releasing its findings.

“Stage two has been underway for six months and that’s now with the minister for his consideration,” Mr Graham said.

“It will be released with a response once it has been considered, which we expect will deal with these issues and I expect that it will have some immediate actions especially around access and longer term investment.”

Mr Graham told the forum that stage one of the review, completed in February, had established that an additional 4800 primary and 2000 additional secondary school places would be required in the inner city by 2031.

As part of 42 new schools currently being constructed across the state, Mr Graham said enrolment zone details would also soon be released for the new vertical school at Ferrars St in Southbank, which is due to open in 2018.

However, Mr Graham’s assurances only appeared to add to the frustrations of many parents, as the meeting descended into a tense question session.

New data released by local parent lobby group City Schools 4 City Kids in June showed that all surrounding inner-city primary and secondary schools were already at capacity for the current school year.

A local father told Mr Graham he had witnessed numerous studies over his 11 years of living in Docklands and questioned whether the government was failing to address capacity and access issues.

“Living in Docklands for 11 years, what we have seen is one government after another do research into the need for a school and then that government gets voted out before the next government does exactly the same,” he said.   “It’s great to have a plan until 2031. When these schools finally do get built, what are the chances that they’ll be over capacity? In other words, are we actually planning or just adding to the problem of not having anywhere to go?”

Mr Graham responded by saying that previous studies had shown that there weren’t enough families living in Docklands to sustain a school, but expected that the current plan would find differently.

“Once government commitments towards schools are made, they are built and governments don’t tend to change those commitments,” he said.

“I expect that once this plan is out, a school will be built in Docklands or in the study area to meet capacity.”

City of Melbourne councillor Ken Ong told the meeting the council had been pushing for a school for the city since 2009, and that every inner-city study had compared it with suburban models.

With options for a site in Docklands limited to Digital Harbour, he asked Mr Graham why the government continued to pursue studies when the result was a “foregone conclusion”.

“Why does the department keep persisting with studies comparing the city’s need for a school with a suburban needs for a school?” Cr Ong asked.

“We know we have a spot next to Digital Harbour and we know it’s going to have to be a vertical school. It is impossible to find a place in the city, so why are we persisting with studies when the result is almost a foregone conclusion?”

The next forum is on October 26 at the Community Hub (not the library).

Mr Graham said Docklands was the most obvious place to look for a school but said that the government was looking at all options.

For more information on the review visit http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/programs/infrastructure/Pages/reviewdocklands.aspx

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