A report presented to Waverley Council has called for an increase to educational infrastructure in order to accommodate surging school enrolments.
The April 22 report outlines the ailing capacity of public schools in the Waverley LGA, noting particularly the dearth of available places in Rose Bay Secondary College (RBSC), the area’s only public high school. It recommends that a second public high school may be necessary to accommodate the increased numbers of students.
Concern over school capacities is borne of a recent baby boom in the Waverley LGA. Department of Planning modelling indicates that the 0-14 year old age group is predicted to surge by 37% by 2031, prompting anxieties for the future capacity of current education infrastructure.
According to the federal government, school enrolments across Australia are foreseen to surge by 611,000 before 2020. A further 1,550 new schools would be required to maintain current average school size.
Public primary schools in the Waverley LGA are approaching capacity, as is RBSC. Catholic and independent schools, however, appear competent to manage future enrolments.
While talk of a second public high school in the eastern suburbs has been rife for years, neither Rose Bay Secondary College nor the Department of Education and Communities (DEC) appears to have any immediate plans for expansion.
Instead, the DEC recommendations include shared use of classrooms, adjusting catchment boundaries, introducing Opportunity Class programs at under-utilised schools, and an expansion of physical structures only “as a last resort”.
However, the report states that “there are no immediate plans by any school (apart from St Clare’s College and St Catherine’s School) to carry out capital work programs to expand numbers.”
Waverley Mayor Sally Betts supported the need to have more public high schools in Waverley, arguing it is in line with the council’s long-term vision.
“We need to fully assess how many children we have got,” she told the Bondi View.
“We want to do long-term strategic planning for our community … In a municipality like Waverley, we don’t have the privilege of finding a place with beautiful grounds.”
National Catholic Education Commission executive director Ross Fox said the problem rests with the NSW government and its intransigence on increasing education funding.
“Capital funding from the government needs to keep pace with the dramatic growth in the student population in Australia,” Mr Fox said.