19 July 2022

Budget promises $39 million for Majura Primary and more demountables for public schools

| Lottie Twyford
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The Majura Primary School P&C has raised concerns about capacity limitations at school. Photo: Supplied.

An additional 300 student places will be created at Majura Primary School as part of a $39 million expansion project to be funded in the upcoming Territory Budget.

It’s expected the project will be completed in 2025.

That $39 million will also fund three new transportable classrooms and allow for the re-use and redistribution of eight existing ones across the public system.

It’s not yet known where these classrooms will be used.

A total of 22 transportables, or so-called ‘Modular Learning Centres’ (MLCs) across 18 schools, were funded in the 2021-22 Budget and the August 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update.

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Minister for Education Yvette Berry said the inner north was experiencing rapid growth in student enrolments in public schools.

“The expansion and modernisation of Majura Primary School will provide up to 300 extra places for students from the Inner North to attend their local primary school. I look forward to seeing this work getting underway,” she said.

“I’m also pleased to announce we will be installing three new Modular Learning Centres, and re-using eight existing ones across our system through funding in the Budget. MLCs give us important flexibility across the system and allow us to meet demand.”

Minister for education Yvette Berry

Minister for Education Yvette Berry says the use of demountables gives the system flexibility to respond to demand where and when it arises. Photo: ACT Government.

The expansion of Majura Primary School to keep up with growing student enrolments, alongside a similar project at North Ainslie Primary School, was first announced by the ACT Education Directorate in March this year.

Enrolment projections released last year showed that Majura Primary School’s population was expected to grow by 208 students to reach 918 students by 2030.

The latest schools census showed there are 717 students enrolled at the school (excluding preschoolers) and it is at 79 per cent capacity.

North Ainslie is expected to grow by 91 students by 2030. There are currently 607 students enrolled at the school (excluding preschoolers) and it is at 82 per cent capacity.

Public school enrolments are booming in the rapidly growing areas of the Inner North and Gungahlin.

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In its submission to an ACT Government inquiry into the management of school infrastructure earlier this year, the Majura Primary School Parents and Citizens Association (P&C) raised concerns about how quickly the school was growing.

In particular, they told the government they were tired of having to continually advocate for stopping specialist teaching spaces like the library from being turned into classrooms.

Furthermore, the P&C said demountables should not be seen as a permanent fix.

“[The] use of demountables is appropriate at the margins to deal with some capacity issues, but they should not be a substitute for wholistic forward planning to deal with and manage demand for public education across the region,” its submission said.

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The last hearing of that government inquiry was told in March by senior directorate officials schools were visited regularly by directorate staff who assessed available space and amenities to calculate future capacity.

Officials said the goal was never to hit 100 per cent but there were times when it was appropriate to include specialist spaces in calculations.

The committee’s report later found specialist teaching places like libraries should not be used to calculate capacity and the government should do more to communicate with the community how it intends to address capacity issues at schools.

Today’s funding builds on yesterday’s announcement of a million dollars in funding for planning and design work for a new public college in Gungahlin alongside a $14.8 million top-up for the $118 million project to expand Margaret Hendry and build a high school next door.

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Finagen_Freeman12:54 pm 19 Jul 22

Demountables? The government sold land to developers knowing the yield in terms of new dwellings, yet couldn’t plan for school growth.

I don’t see any government minister or their aids, administrators or support staff being put up in demountable modular buildings.

Build on the cheap for schools but not for government officials. Nice work (if you can get it).

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