NSW Schools Bursting At The Seems: Berejiklian’s Botched Enrolment Cap Leaves 32% of Public Schools in Cessnock Electorate Overcrowded

The Berejiklian Government’s school enrolment cap crackdown has been a massive failure. Recent investigations by Labor have unveiled that 45% of schools subject to the cap are overcapacity announced State Member for the Electorate of Cessnock, Clayton Barr MP.

From mid-2019 the Berejiklian Government set a student population limit for each school based on its number of permanent buildings, preventing parents from enrolling their children in schools out of their immediate catchment area.

Across the Electorate of Cessnock 10 schools subject to the cap are over capacity, with five schools of those schools seeing a large number of enrolments to stretch them over the cap to over 130%.

Schools in the Electorate of Cessnock over capacity are:

  • Branxton Public School: the enrolment cap was set at 231, actual enrolment is 377:  it is 163.2% of the cap or 146 students over the cap.
  • Edgeworth Heights Public School: the enrolment cap was set at 278, actual enrolment is 406:  it is 146% of the cap or 128 students over the cap.
  • Bellbird Public School: the enrolment cap was set at 185, actual enrolment is 251:  it is 135.7% of the cap or 66 students over the cap.
  • Edgeworth Public School: the enrolment cap was set at 462, actual enrolment is 610:  it is 132% of the cap or 148 students over the cap.
  • Pelaw Main Public School: the enrolment cap was set at 150, actual enrolment is 195:  it is 130% of the cap or 45 students over the cap.
  • Greta Public School: the enrolment cap was set at 162, actual enrolment is 194:  it is 119.8% of the cap or 32 students over the cap.
  • Cessnock East Public School: the enrolment cap was set at 208, actual enrolment is 249:   it is 119.7% of the cap or 41 students over the cap.
  • Barnsley Public School: the enrolment cap was set at 301, actual enrolment is 319:  it is 106% of the cap or 18 students over the cap.
  • Mount View High School: the enrolment cap was set at 940, actual enrolment is 957.5:  it is 101.9% of the cap or 17.5 students over the cap.
  • Abermain Public School: the enrolment cap was set at 278, actual enrolment is 279:  it is 100.4% of the cap or 1 student over the cap.

Labor Shadow Minister for Education Prue Car stated “Less than 12 months after it was launched the Berejiklian Government’s enrolment crackdown has been a fiasco. 45 per cent of affected schools are over capacity.”

The introduction of the cap caused anxiety for families who faced having to split up their children, and hasn’t helped solve the overcrowding crisis in our schools.

“Schools in NSW are chronically overcrowded because the Berejiklian Government has failed to build new schools where they are needed and has instead stuck demountables on playgrounds like sardines in a tin” said Ms Car.

Mr Barr reiterated “This lack of investment in our schools shows the Berejiklian Government’s attitude towards education and students. The fundamentals of education including adequate classrooms and sufficient maintenance of property are being overlooked for the government’s vanity projects such as moving the Powerhouse Museum at a cost of over a billion dollars.”

“The failure of the Berejiklian Government to invest in infrastructure in our local schools is clearly visible with the number of schools in the Electorate not just over the cap but exceedingly overcapacity” said Mr Barr.

A report from the Audit Office of New South Wales in 2017 noted the chronic under-investment in NSW Government school infrastructure and deficiencies in asset planning. Many schools have more students than should accommodated in existing classrooms, and demountables are widely used for extended periods. The conditions of classrooms have been declining due to insufficient maintenance and many are not configured to support contemporary and desired future learning and teaching methods.

Mr Barr said “With our school populations predicted to grow in NSW we need to invest in our local schools to ensure our students have the safest and most conducive places to learn.”

Research shows that well designed and maintained facilities improve student learning outcomes, the Audit Office of New South Wales concluded.

“As we move forward easing restrictions around schools, the figures are of particular concern, overcrowding in schools means that social distancing is just not possible in many of our schools. This puts teachers, students, staff and their families in danger” said Mr Barr.