Parents left waiting as 99 ’ghost’ schools stuck in planning

 

Almost 100 promised new public schools and upgrades to deal with the state's school overcrowding crisis still have no start or finish date, an investigation can reveal.

Only a handful of new schools will be open for the start of the school term, while 99 new schools and upgrades promised are still in the planning stages, a Labor analysis found.

Of those, 30 are ghost schools which have been promised but do not physically exist yet.

 

 

They include Olympic Park High School which was promised eight years ago and is still "in the early planning stage", according to the NSW Education Department's website.

Schools slated to open this year include Smalls Road Public School in Ryde, the Inner City High School and Arthur Phillip High School in Parramatta.

The analysis found there was no detail in the NSW budget about any of the 39 new schools and upgrades announced in the lead up to the election last March.

An artist's impression of the Meadowbank Education Precinct where demolition work has been carried out but it is still waiting for the procurement of the head contractor.
An artist's impression of the Meadowbank Education Precinct where demolition work has been carried out but it is still waiting for the procurement of the head contractor.

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NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay said across Sydney, high density developments were being approved but the government was not building sufficient schools to keep up with demand.

"Gladys Berejiklian told people that she would build new schools all over Sydney but we are seeing overcrowded schools across Western Sydney with kids packed into demountables," she said.

"We're seeing massive development planned but no plans for the schools that families moving into those areas will need."

Newington Public School P and C president Michelle MacDonald said the school in Sydney's west had 14 demountables and there was not enough space for the children to run around.

"There are so many kids running around at once, it is dangerous and there is not enough space for them," she said.

"There are so many kids they had to schedule who gets to play on Monday, Wednesday and Friday."

An artist's impression of the Meadowbank Education Precinct where demolition work has been carried out but it is still waiting for the procurement of the head contractor.
An artist's impression of the Meadowbank Education Precinct where demolition work has been carried out but it is still waiting for the procurement of the head contractor.

She said she wanted to send her son Ben, who is in Year 3, to the slated Olympic Park High School but wasn't sure it would open in time.

"If this doesn't open, he would have to go to Concord High," she said.

The analysis found construction had not begun on a further 23 projects promised well before the upgrades.

Of those, 13 were new schools and 10 were school upgrades like new classrooms.

It said funding had been allocated but construction had not started on a another 12 new schools, 16 primary school upgrades and 7 high school upgrades.

This year will see the largest cohort of students ever recorded entering schools, with NSW public schools will take 497,000 primary school students and 318,000 high school students, with 71,000 alone starting kindergarten.

Labor education spokeswoman Prue Car said western Sydney schools were now full while standards were plummeting.

"How can parents across Western Sydney have confidence that their kids will be able to get the quality education they need to get ahead in life when they see standards plummeting and more overcrowded schools," she said.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell last night defended her government's record, claiming infrastructure was funded over multiplebudgets.

Ms Mitchell said the government last year delivered 42 new and upgraded schools across NSW, including Coffs Harbour PublicSchool as well as Cecil Hills Public School.

"The NSW government has committed to the largest investment in public education infrastructure in the history of NSW. Labor'sclaims are pure fiction," Ms Mitchell said.

"We are on track to deliver our election commitment of 190 new and upgraded schools over four years to support communitiesacross NSW, and we have budgeted $6.7 billion to do so."