The rapid population growth in the western suburbs of Newcastle, particularly in the Fletcher, Minmi and Cameron Park regions, has led to an explosion of numbers attending the local schools.
The recent trend in housing developments in the Wallsend electorate shows no signs of abating and has prompted calls by the State Member Sonia Hornery MP for the government to look to the future and prepare for a new school.
Ms Hornery told LakeMac Today that more than 40% of local schools are either at, or well above, capacity.
“Across the Wallsend electorate there are eight schools that have a capacity of 100% or above and another four schools which are bordering on breaking point at 95% capacity, or above.
“Last year, the Government announced it would be spending $5 billion on constructing new schools as a result of increasing enrolments, but not a single cent has been proposed for the westerns suburbs.
“I have raised this issue with the Education Minister to see what works are in the pipeline for the Wallsend, Fletcher, Maryland area, given the rapid increase in population we are seeing.
“Since 2016, we have seen schools in the western suburbs have a large increase in enrolments and many have now reached capacity.
“Callaghan College at Wallsend has gone from 94% to 98% and Wallsend Public School has gone from 92% to 100% capacity. Glendore Public School remains at 100% capacity.”
“This Government has forced schools that are above capacity to make the difficult decision to either place more demountable classrooms on shrinking school space or continue teaching in overcrowded classrooms.
“Where that is not possible, the catchment area for schools is changed dramatically and students face an even longer and more difficult journey to get to school.
“Experts are predicting that population numbers in Fletcher/Minmi will double in the next 20 years, with large parcels of land becoming available for development. Public school enrolments are expected to increase by 21% in that same time.
“If we are serious about planning for the future then we must prepare for a new school in the western suburbs of Newcastle,” said Ms Hornery.