The ACT Government said it may install transportable classrooms to cope with extra demand as student enrolments in Belconnen continue to climb.
ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations have vocalised their concern about schools in Belconnen being at breaking point, highlighting an urgent need for another primary school in the region.
ACT school enrolments have risen by 5,725 students in the past four years– from 43,427 students in 2015 to 49,152 in 2019 – including a rise of 1,352 enrolments in the Belconnen region.
With Belconnen’s public primary schools already at a utilisation rate of 77 per cent, an ACT Government spokesperson said Ginninderry was being looked at as the best location for future schools and said transportable classrooms would also be considered to deal with the growing numbers.
“The ACT Education Directorate is working closely with the ACT Government’s planning agencies to define the best locations in and adjacent to Ginninderry for future schools, as well as increases in capacity for existing schools in the region,” the spokesperson said.
“As planning progresses, decisions will be made to increase capacity in Belconnen, including the use of transportable classrooms.”
The Government’s Indicative Land Release Program outlines the release of 2,785 residential dwellings in Belconnen town centre and western Belconnen over the next four years, with the Education Directorate expecting an average student growth rate of two per cent per annum over the next decade.
“The ACT Government has an ongoing program of planning and construction in place to deliver new and expanded school capacity to cater to the students of our growing city,” the spokesperson said.
“The Education Directorate has a permanent team dedicated to school infrastructure planning, which continually refines and regularly updates enrolment projections based on various sources of information, including population projections and land planning data.
“Projected enrolment growth is then matched to planning for expanded schools or for new schools as required.”
ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry said the ACT Government has committed nearly $28 million in capacity increases and learning space upgrades to Belconnen public schools over the past three years and that commitment will continue.
“Every child in the ACT is guaranteed a place at their local public school, and every public school in Canberra is a great school,” Ms Berry said.
“The recent support given to non-Government schools is in addition to the ongoing and significant investments the ACT Government has made, and continues to make, in public education infrastructure and planning.
“As developments in and around central and southeastern Belconnen progress, decisions will be made to ensure there will always be a place in their local school for all ACT resident students, including all residents of Belconnen.
“Over the last three years, the ACT Government has invested $63.9 million in increasing the capacity of existing schools and nearly $28 million in capacity increases and learning space upgrades to Belconnen public schools.
“This has included the modernisation of Belconnen High School, as well as investments at Aranda Primary School, Canberra High School, Florey Primary School, Fraser Primary School, Melba Copland School and UC Kaleen High School.”
Earlier this week, the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations questioned the Government’s commitment to public schools in the Belconnen region after the government announced it will spend $3.75 million to grow capacity at five private schools.
P&C spokesperson Janelle Kennard said there is a growing need for another primary school in central Belconnen.
“Currently residents of central Belconnen are in the priority enrolment area for either Macquarie Primary (currently at 85 per cent capacity) or Florey Primary (currently 78 per cent capacity) depending on their address,” Ms Kennard said.
“No schools are close to Belconnen town centre (Macquarie Primary 1.8km, Florey Primary 2km, Aranda 2.2km, Weetangera 2.5km, Southern Cross Early Childhood 3km).
“Council is concerned that as residential developments go ahead substantial numbers of students will be expected to travel too far for schooling.
“The Belconnen town centre would benefit from the social capital that revolves around a school. Given that families make up a significant proportion of people moving into these new residences, the need for a school must be addressed.”