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School review to continue

03 Mar 2016

School review to continue Image

The State Government’s review into school needs in Docklands has found more local schools will be needed in the next 15 years to meet expected growth.

Stage one of the review found that there would be a shortfall of around 4800 government primary school places and 2000 government secondary school places across the study area of Docklands and inner-Melbourne by 2031.

The review found that the number of primary school-aged students living in Docklands is expected to grow to 866 by 2035. It’s anticipated around 691 secondary students will be living in Docklands by 2035.

The State Government has confirmed the review will now move into stage two, which will focus on further community and stakeholder consultation and look at options to deliver schooling across Docklands and surrounding areas.

The study area focuses on inner Melbourne including Port Melbourne, Albert Park, South Melbourne, Carlton, North Melbourne, Kensington and Docklands.

Education Minister James Merlino said: “As promised, we are reviewing the future education needs across Docklands and inner Melbourne to tackle a dramatic reduction in school infrastructure investment under the former Liberal government.”

In the meantime, Docklands parents have continued their campaign for a local school, with lobby group City Schools 4 City Kids gaining a following.

The group, recently formed by Docklands parents Denise Fung-Henderson and Michelle Styles, held a morning tea for around 70 people at Parliament House last month to raise awareness for the cause.

The group is advocating for public primary and secondary schools for children living in the inner city, including Docklands, the CBD and Southbank.

Speaking to the group Ms Styles said every family in Docklands was affected by the current situation, describing her own experience of driving her seven-year-old son to school each day in peak hour heavily congested roads and city gridlock.

“This crisis does not just affect Docklands, it affects many inner-urban communities including the CBD, Southbank, West Melbourne and South Melbourne which have no local state schools,” Ms Styles said.

Ms Styles also highlighted the impact on neighbouring communities of North Melbourne, Carlton, Kensington, Parkville, Port Melbourne and Albert Park, which are dealing with overcrowding in local state schools.

“I really hope as a united community we can do this. We can support the children of Docklands, Southbank and the CBD to have a school in their own community.”

“Schools are the glue that help communities stick together.”

City Schools 4 City Kids has already attracted political attention with Greens Melbourne MLA Ellen Sandell putting her support behind the group.

Speaking at the morning tea, Ms Sandell said it was important to maintain the pressure on the government to deliver a school for inner-city families.

“We need to see money in the budget for a school,” Ms Sandell said.  “I know that we can win but it is going to take some more work.”

Attendees at the morning tea also included Sex Party leader Fiona Patten, Prahan Greens MLA Sam Hibbins and City of Melbourne councillors Jackie Watts and Ken Ong.

Other speakers at the morning tea also included social and urban planning academic Professor Carolyn Whitzman and Albert Park Primary School principal and Docklands-based grandmother Elaine Mills.

Prof Whitzman said the authorities had so far ignored the reality of families living in high-rises.

Ms Mills commented that inner-city schools were full because “living in or close to the city is Melbourne’s best kept secret.”

“Docklanders have the best place in the world to live,” Ms Mills said. “They just need a school.”

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