An average of one new school will open in the ACT every year until at least the middle of the decade as the government plans to keep up with growing population demand, especially in the Territory’s northern suburbs.
The proliferation of public schools due to population growth in developing and new suburbs is more than four times the usual amount, with one school usually being built in the ACT about every four years, Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry said.
The government recently announced that it will spend $2 million to begin design work this year on a new 800-student high school in Taylor and $1 million for preparatory work to expand the Margaret Hendry Primary School in north Gungahlin to support an additional 600 students.
The school’s expansion is expected to be completed by the start of the 2023 school year.
Almost $25 million has also been set aside in next week’s ACT Budget for work that will enable a new school to be built in Kenny, including surrounding road infrastructure.
The school will accommodate 800 students from years 7 to 10 and will contain a multi-purpose double gymnasium for community use.
Priority enrolment will be given to children from the area.
Ms Berry said that schools will be appropriately staffed when they open due to current teacher numbers and recruitment plans.
“This year we had 150 new teachers join our ranks,” she said.
“I understand that there are some challenges for other states and territories around employing and engaging school teachers, but at the moment in the ACT, we have enough teachers.
“We will continue with a recruitment plan to make sure that Canberra remains one of those really great cities to work in and that teachers actually choose to come here and work in our public schools.”
Labor pledged to employ 400 new teachers by the middle of the decade during last year’s election campaign.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that the funding and construction would create many jobs in the Territory.
“Every $200,000 spent on infrastructure per year supports one job in the construction industry,” he said,
“Each new school will create jobs for new teachers, support staff, and building support officers.”
The ACT budget will be delivered on Tuesday (9 February).